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Ocul Surf. 2012 Jul;10(3):170-83. doi: 10.1016/j.jtos.2012.04.004. Epub 2012 May 9.

Regenerative approaches as alternatives to donor allografting for restoration of corneal function.

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Integrative Regenerative Medicine Centre, Department of Clinical and Experimental Medicine, Linköping University, Sweden.


A range of alternatives to human donor tissue for corneal transplantation are being developed to address the shortfall of good quality tissues as well as the clinical conditions for which allografting is contraindicated. Classical keratoprostheses, commonly referred to as artificial corneas, are being used clinically to replace minimal corneal function. However, they are used only as last resorts, as they are associated with significant complications, such as extrusion/rejection, glaucoma, and retinal detachment. The past few years have seen significant developments in technologies designed to replace part or the full thickness of damaged or diseased corneas with materials that encourage regeneration to different extents. This review describes selected examples of these corneal substitutes, which range from cell-based regenerative strategies to keratoprostheses with regenerative capabilities via tissue-engineered scaffolds pre-seeded with stem cells. It is unlikely that one corneal substitute will be best for all indications, but taken together, the various approaches may soon be able to supplement the supply of human donor corneas for transplantation or allow restoration of diseased or damaged corneas that cannot be treated by currently available techniques.

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