The cornea is the transparent dome-shaped portion of the front of the eye that is responsible for focusing most of the light that enters the eye. The cornea consists predominately of collagen protein and cellular tissue that maintains its glass-like clarity.
In certain medical conditions, such as a traumatic injury or infection, scar tissue can form in the middle layers of the cornea leading to loss of clarity and blindness. In other conditions, the cornea develops an abnormal shape, a disease called keratoconus, leading to loss of visual clarity. Often the treatment for these conditions is the need for human corneal transplantation. It is estimated that in China and India alone, nearly 9 million patients need corneal transplantation. However, in many parts of the world, there is significant lack of donated human corneas, and the only option is to use porcine (pig) corneas. Porcine corneas do not have the clarity of natural human corneas and often require additional medication to prevent rejection.
The Eluminex biosynthetic cornea is a novel, genetically engineered biosynthetic cornea using recombinant human collagen protein that is intended to address the shortage of human donor corneas in many other parts of the world including China. Using engineered human protein, the goal is improved long-term clarity without the need for immunosuppressive drugs and to provide sufficient supply of corneal tissue for worldwide demand.
Reference – Yoon et al. Corneal xenotransplantation: where are we standing? Progress in Retinal and Eye Research, Vol. 80: January 2021. 100876.]