Glaucoma is a common condition affecting approximately 60.5 million people around the globe. As an irregularity in fluid flowing around the eye it clouds the retina, causing irreversible damage to eyesight and potential blindness. Using bioprint technology, researchers at the Colorado School of Mines have proposed a new method of studying the condition.
Glaucoma occurs when there is a blockage in the TM. Laser eye surgery can be used to relieve this blockage, but it is not always an option for cases further along in development. Putting a stop to the progress of glaucoma is a more preferable approach.
In a study from the Krebs Biochemical Engineering Lab at Mines, researchers propose an method for a bioprint model of TM. Conventionally produced, TM models would typically be two-dimensional, oversimplifying the structure of the tissue.
Though bioprint technology, the Krebs Lab team determined the optimal settings for depositing high-resolution threads of gel.
The hydrogel demonstrated in the study is made using extracts of algae. The material is often used for cell-supportive research due to its shape retaining properties. It can also be combined with upwards of 90% water content, which is the ideal micro environment for growing and maintaining living cells. The proposed next step with the gel is to arrange the threads into more complex scaffold structures.
The designs mimic the natural grid structure of body tissue, and so when cells are added they “sort out” into the specified arrangement. By culturing the cells for a number of days, they could eventually grow into a layer of tissue that could be used in advanced studies of TM, and as a therapeutic treatment.