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London: In a major breakthrough that could lead to a cure for some types of blindness, scientists from Cambridge University have developed an inkjet printer that can be used to create cells found in the retina of the eye.

The method could lead to the production of artificial tissue grafts made from a variety of cells found in the human retina – the light-sensitive layer of tissue at back of the eye – which could be used for treating people suffering from retinal damage.

The researchers used inkjet printing technology to successfully ‘print’ two types of cells from the retina of adult rats – ganglion cells and glial cells.

Now, ‘Printed’ Eye' Cells Raise Hope for Cure of Blindness

In their study, the researchers used a piezoelectric inkjet printer device that ejected the cells through a sub-millimetre diameter nozzle when a specific electrical pulse was applied. The cells thus produced not only survived but could also grow and develop. "The loss of nerve cells in the retina is a feature of many blinding eye diseases. Our study has shown, for the first time, that cells derived from the mature central nervous system, the eye, can be printed using a piezoelectric inkjet printer,” said Keith Martin and Barbara Lorber from the John van Geest Centre for Brain Repair, University of Cambridge.

"Although our results are preliminary and much more work is still required, the aim is to develop this technology for use in retinal repair in the future,” they added. The ability to arrange cells into highly defined patterns and structures has recently elevated the use of 3D printing in the biomedical sciences to create cell-based structures for use in regenerative medicine.

The researchers also used high speed video technology to record the printing process with high resolution and optimized their procedures accordingly.

Times of India
19 Dec 2013,
by - Kounteya Sinha

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