Updated on 12 December 2012
Professor Sheila MacNeil, University of Sheffield, said that, "Laboratory tests have shown that the membranes will support cell growth, so the next stage is to trial this in patients in India, working with our colleagues in the LV Prasad Eye Institute in Hyderabad. One advantage of our design is that we have made the disc from materials already in use as biodegradable sutures in the eye so we know they won't cause a problem in the body. This means that, subject to the necessary safety studies and approval from Indian regulatory authorities, we should be able to move to early stage clinical trials fairly quickly."
Treating corneal blindness is a particularly pressing problem in the developing world, where there are high instances of chemical or accidental damage to the eye but complex treatments such as transplants or amniotic membrane grafts are not available to a large part of the population.
The research is supported by a Wellcome Trust Affordable Healthcare for India Award to the University of Sheffield and the LV Prasad Eye Institute, where the work is led by associate director and head of clinical research, Dr Virender Sangwan. The work has also been supported through a research fellowship for Dr Ortega from the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC).