BEIJING, May 23 (Xinhua) -- A Chinese team unveiled a new product of bio-engineered cornea on Saturday, which is expected to help millions of people suffering from corneal blindness to see again.
The Acornea, an acellular corneal stroma product developed mainly by China Regenerative Medicine Int. Ltd. (CRMI) and the Tissue Engineering R & D Center with the Fourth Military Medical University (FMMU), is the result of decades of research. It was accredited with due qualification by China Food and Drug Administration in late April.
The product, a kind of heterogeneous cornea, is devoid of cells, hybrid proteins, poly-saccharides and other antigens, but retains a natural collagen structure with remarkable bio-compatibility and biological safety, according to Jin Yan, head of the Tissue Engineering R & D Center with FMMU.
"It can quickly integrate with the surrounding tissue, and promote its own cells to be rebuilt. The transplanted cornea will gradually become transparent, thus, recovering the patient's vision," Jin added.
The Acornea has complete independent intellectual property rights and has been industrialized, which is a significant step for China in the field of tissue engineering and regenerative medicine, according to Guan Guoliang from CRMI.
Existing treatment for corneal blindness includes transplants and artificial corneas. Some heterogeneous materials, such as glass and silica gel, made with synthetic material are often rejected by the body.
Beijing Tongren Hospital and Wuhan Xiehe Hospital, among others, have conducted clinical trials of Acornea since 2010, recording a success rate of 94.44 percent, similar to the results seen with donated human corneas.
According to the World Health Organization, there are about eight million blind patients in China. However, only about 5,000 of those receive donated corneas annually.