Research into the creation of a new synthetic gel for eye injury could potentially provide a sight-saving alternative to current treatments for injury or infection of the cornea.
University of Sydney researches, in collaboration with colleagues in Canada and Sweden, have completed preclinical testing of LiQD Cornea, a synthetic, biocompatible and adhesive liquid that aims to mend damaged cornea, potentially removing the need for transplants.
In Australia, approximately 4,300 people suffer from corneal injury each year, often due to physical trauma or infection caused from a workplace injury of virus in the eye. Currently, such complications are only treated through sealing with a toxic cyanoacrylate glue which, without follow-up corneal transplantation, will result in vision loss. Associate Professor Chameen Samarawickrama, study co-author from the University of Sydney’s Faculty of Medicine and Health and The Westmead Institute of Medical Research, compared the synthetic gel to a dental filling.
“It comes out as a liquid and sets in a gel form, stays on the eye comfortably, doesn’t scar and remains see-through or translucent, countering many of the limitations of the tissue glue currently used. Our early studies also suggest it allows the eye to continue to regenerate,” he said.
A preclinical trial carried out with rabbits found that LiQD Cornea worked very effectively on smaller injuries. A/Prof Samarawickrama noted that such results are encouraging as the cornea is avascular in all mammals, increasing the likelihood of similar outcomes in humans.
As well as this, due to the synthetic nature of the material, it was found that immune rejection and disease transmission risks, common with natural products, were reduced.
“If successful, LiQD Cornea could be applied outside the operating room setting meaning there is immense potential to reduce health care costs and increase patient access,” said A/Prof Samarawickrama.