Robots in disguise

Rolf Coppens
November 14th 2007

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"Every year, in Germany alone, around 7000 people wait for a new cornea to save their eyesight. But donor corneas are in short supply. In an EU project, researchers have developed an artificial cornea which is to be clinically tested in early 2008."

The EU-funded CORNEA project has now developed an artificial cornea that is showing promise in trials. Reportedly, scientists at the Fraunhofer Institute for Applied Polymer Research IAP in Potsdam and the Department of Ophthalmology at the University Hospital of Regensburg have created a device that is "based on a commercially available polymer which absorbs no water and allows no cells to grow on it." Put simply, the cornea implant can "firmly connect with the natural part of the cornea, while the center remains free of cells and therefore clear." Apparently, early versions have already been successfully placed in the eyes of rabbits, and if ongoing testing goes smoothly, they'll be headed for humans as early as next year.

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