In a bid to cure blindness, Cambridge University scientists successfully printed new eye cells using inkjet printing technology for the first time on 10 February 2014.
One of the main reasons behind many eye diseases is the loss of nerve cells in the retina which can further lead to the blindness. The retina consists of the precise arrangement of cells for effective vision.
Scientists found that Piezoelectric Inkjet Printer can print the cells derived from the central nervous system and eyes.
This printer on receiving a specific electrical pulse ejected the cells from a sub millimeter diameter nozzle. They also used a high definition video technology to record the printing process with high resolution and optimized their procedures.
The results showed that printed cells remained healthy and retained their ability to survive and grow in culture. But, these results are preliminary. It was also confirmed that this printer can print two types of cells from the retina of adult rat- ganglion cells and glial cells. Ganglion cells transmit information from the eye to specific regions of the brain whereas Glial cells provide support and protection of neurons.
For the first time, this technology has been used successfully to print mature central nervous system cells. Scientists believe that this technique can produce artificial tissue grafts made from the variety of cells found in the human retina. These tissue grafts can later be used in curing blindness.