Researchers at KTH Stockholm and Karolinska Institutet have developed a 3D-printed implant for the eye that could be used to treat diabetes. The implant can accommodate insulin-producing cells and is also used for monitoring.
The implant is a wedge-shaped body about 240 micrometers long. According to the researchers, it can be mechanically fixed in the front of the eye. The body’s own islets of Langerhans, which produce insulin, could then be placed there.
According to the scientists, the eye is well suited because, unlike other regions of the body, it does not show any rejection reaction against the implanted cells. In addition, its transparency makes it very easy to observe how the implant behaves in the eye.
In animal studies, the implant lasted for several months and the cells integrated well, the researchers said. Thus, the technology could offer a way to treat diabetes using cell replacement. At the same time, the implant monitors insulin production.
Whether the promising approach will prove successful in further studies and in humans remains to be seen. However, the basic research is a first step on the way to novel medical devices that combine cell replacement and monitoring.
Weiterführende Informationen sind im Fachartikel “3D-Printed Biohybrid Microstructures Enable Transplantation and Vascularization of Microtissues in the Anterior Chamber of the Eye” in Advanced Materials erschienen (DOI: doi.org/10.1002/adma.202306686)