The National Eye Institute (NEI) research team, part of the National Institutes of Health, used patient stem cells and 3D bioprinting to produce eye tissue that will advance the understanding of the mechanisms of blinding diseases.

Researchers at the USA’s National Eye Institute (NEI) have developed a way of 3D bioprinting eye tissues using patient stem cells.

Using their approach, in which three different types of immature choroidal cells are printed onto a biodegradable scaffold, the scientists say it could be possible to create an unlimited supply of patient-derived tissues.

The process began with creating prototype biodegradable scaffolds onto which the mixture of cells and hydrogel was printed. Within days, implanted cells had begun to mature into a dense capillary network

Scientists combined three immature choroidal cell types in a hydrogel: pericytes, endothelial cells, and fibroblasts. They then printed the gel on a biodegradable scaffold. Within days, the cells began to mature into a dense capillary network.

On day nine, the scientists seeded retinal pigment epithelial cells on the flip side of the scaffold. The printed tissue reached full maturity on day 42.

While the 3D bioprinting of eye tissues remains at an experimental stage, conventional 3D printing has been deployed in the production of various other optical medical procedures.

In 2021, surgeons at the Israeli Galilee Medical Center (GMC) developed a means of treating eye socket fractures with 3D printing and augmented reality (AR) glasses.