Irreversible loss of optical quality of the cornea due to disease or damage results in permanent vision loss or blindness.
The human cornea is the transparent outermost surface of the eye and the major refractive element of the visual system; its function depends on its optical clarity. Loss of visual acuity due to scarring of the corneal tissues from infection or injury is a leading cause of vision loss globally. In other situations, the cornea can develop an abnormal shape (keratoconus) that can lead to vision loss. Treatment for decreased in visual acuity due to corneal scarring or advanced keratoconus is a human donor corneal transplant but a fundamental problem with corneal replacement is a severe shortage of donor tissue, resulting in about 10 million untreated patients globally and 1.5 million new cases annually. Eluminex is developing an alternative to human donor corneas using a regenerative medicine approach by the development of an acellular biosynthetic cornea made from recombinant human collagen to address the worldwide demand for corneal tissue implants in patients with stable (non-infectious) stromal corneal blindness.
Reference: Fagerholm P., et al, A Biosynthetic Alternative to Human Donor Tissue for Inducing Corneal Regeneration: 24-Month Follow-Up of a Phase 1 Clinical Study. Sci Trans Med (2010) 2(46): 46ra61.