Researchers grow first biohybrid fake retina with silk fibroin and retinal cells

Researchers grow first biohybrid fake retina with silk fibroin and retinal cells


  • Post By : Kumar Jeetendra

  • Source: Complutense University of Madrid

  • Date: 13 Dec,2020

An international research led by the Complutense University of Madrid has taken a further step to solve the age-related macular degeneration (AMD)-derived blidness problem with the development of the first biohybrid artificial retina constructed with silk fibroin and retinal cells.

The biohybrid retina is a cell therapy for the reconstruction of the damaged retina by implanting healthy cells in the patient’s eye.”

Fivos Panetsos, Director of the Neuro-computation and Neuro-robotics Group of the UCM and Member of the Institute of Health Research of the Hospital Clínico San Carlos de Madrid (IdISSC)

The cells of the artificial retina adhere to very thin silk fibroin biofilms – a biomaterial 100% biocompatible with human tissue – and covered by a gel that protects them during eye surgery and enables them to survive during the period they need to get incorporated with thesurrounding tissue after transplantation.

“The transplanted retina also includes mesenchymal cells which function as manufacturers of neuroprotective and neuroreparative molecules and facilitate functional integration between implanted and individual cells”, adds UCM’s researcher and director of the study, published in the Journal of Neural Engineering.

Another step in a problem with more than 196 million affected
To create this artificial retina, researchers have developed silk fibroin films with mechanical characteristics like Bruch’s membrane – the layer of cells that affirms the neural retina. Then, they’ve biofunctionalized them that retinal cells could adhere, and on them they have grown epithelial and neural cells. Finally, they’ve carried out an in vitro analysis of the structural and operational characteristics of the biohybrid.

Triggered by heterogeneous, complex and still poorly understood mechanisms, it’s the leading cause of irreversible vision loss in people over 65 years of age and affects more than 196 million people worldwide.

AMD is an incurable disease, and current treatments can only alleviate symptoms and slow down the progression of the disease. “This research is an important step towards solving the problem of blindness faced by AMD patients”, concludes Panetsos.

Journal reference:

Jemni-Damer, N., et al. (2020) First steps for the development of silk fibroin-based 3D biohybrid retina for age-related macular degeneration (AMD). Journal of Neural Engineering.

About Author