Age-related Macular degeneration (AMD) is an eye disorder categorized by several conditions that negatively affect the macula. The macula is also referred to as the 'yellow spot.' It is a minuscule, specialized region of the retina that contains photoreceptor cells (cone cells). These cells are responsible for central sight in bright light to distinguish fine color and detail. Right beside the central macula is the peripheral macula, which consists of other photoreceptor cells or rod cells responsible for sight in dim lighting.
Various treatments have been developed to prevent the progression of wet but not dry AMD. These treatments include Photodynamic Therapy, Anti – VEGF Therapy, Laser Treatment, etc. However, there is a need for development in treatments as they are available for wet but not dry AMD.
Recently, a group of researchers has developed a first of its kind bio-hybrid artificial retina built with silk fibroin and retina cells. This development will take the Retinal Disorder Treatment Market a step further.
A bio-hybrid retina is a cell therapy that implants healthy cells in the patient's eye to help reconstruct the damaged retina. The cells of the artificial retina consist of very thin silk fibroin bio-films. Bio-films are biomaterial, that is 100% bio-compatible with human tissue. It is also covered by a gel that protects cells during eye surgery and helps them survive when they need to get integrated with the surrounding tissue after transplantation.
The transplanted retina also consists of mesenchymal cells that produce neuro-reparative and neuroprotective molecules. These cells also facilitate functional integration between implanted cells and patient cells.
To develop this artificial retina, researchers have made silk fibroin films with mechanical characteristics which are similar to the Bruch's membrane. It is the layer of the cells that supports the neural retina. Then, they have bio-functionalized them so that retinal cells could adhere to them. After that, they have grown neural and epithelial cells. At last, they have carried out an in vitro study of bio-hybrid structural and functional characteristics.
Age-Related Macular Degeneration (AMD) is a neurodegenerative disease and causes a progressive loss of central vision and, at times, blindness when it is in its most advanced stage. It is triggered by complex, heterogeneous, and still poorly understood mechanisms. It is the main cause of irreversible vision loss that affects more than 196 million people worldwide, mostly over 65 years of age.
It is an incurable disease, and current treatments have only managed to alleviate the symptoms caused by it and slow down the disease's progression. Hence, this research is an essential step towards solving the blindness faced by the patients suffering from this disease.
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