Pig Corneas for Treating Blindness

Monday, March 14, 2016

Piggy Eyes

Doctors from Zhongshan University, China have successfully restored the vision of a 14–year–old boy with the help of bio–engineered corneas made from pigs’ eyes. The boy had injured his right eye in a firecracker accident during the New Year celebrations and later, developed an ulcer due to which, he lost sight.

Fortunately, a week after the transplant, he regained some vision. According to the doctors, his sight may be close to normal in the near future. Research for using animal corneas began in 2003 and after successful experimentation on the animals, clinical tests were carried out in 2010 on 100 patients wherein, about 94 of them regained partly or a complete vision. Initial tests were conducted using tissues from chicken, cows, ducks, geese, monkeys, pigs and sheep were selected whose corneas were just as successful as humans.

However, artificial corneas have their limitations too. They are ineffective on severe wounds. Demands for cornea transplant exceed supply and so, bio–engineered solutions are a way forward. After receiving approval from China Food and Drug Administration in April last year, the product has gone into mass production.

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