European Society of Cataract and Refractive Surgeons Meeting

European Society of Cataract and Refractive Surgeons Meeting

October 08, 2017
1 min read

Biomimetic corneal substitutes show promise

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Michel Haagdorens

LISBON, Portugal — Collagen-like peptide hydrogels show encouraging results in preliminary studies and are a promising alternative for human donor corneas, according to a speaker.

“Corneal transplantation is highly effective and is the most common tissue graft technique, but immune rejection is still an issue in some cases. In addition, the global shortage of donor corneas strongly indicates the need for lab-grown alternatives,” Michel Haagdorens, MD, said at the EuCornea meeting.

Both synthetic and recombinant human collagen type I and III are cross-linked to obtain hydrogels, which are transparent, elastic, biocompatible, non-mutagenic and withstand manipulation and suturing.

“For these characteristics, hydrogels are optimal as a substrate for stem cells, which can be harvested from the patient or from a family-related donor. We are still in the preliminary stages of research but have been able to demonstrate that cells maintain their genotype and phenotype in vitro and in vivo,” Haagdorens said.

The goal is to obtain fully customizable biomimetic implants, specifically tailored for individual patients.

“The advantage of synthetic collagen is that it can be made in small building blocks that can be combined in any order and quantity to tailor the corneal graft as needed,” he said. “However, we are doing exactly the same experiments on all three types of collagen, to find out the specific advantages and disadvantages, which may also respond to specific needs in different patients.” – by Michela Cimberle


Haagdorens M, et al. Self-assembling collagen-like-peptide nano-implants as stem cell-loaded substitutes to human cornea transplantation. Presented at EuCornea; Oct. 6-7, 2017; Lisbon.

Disclosure: Haagdorens reports no relevant financial disclosures.