Dr Shroff’s Charity Eye Hospital has collaborated with Bengaluru-based Pandorum Technology and opened a one-of-its-kind centre offering advanced regenerative therapeutics for patients suffering from corneal blindness.
According to the WHO, corneal opacity accounts for over 4 per cent of blindness worldwide, leading to more than 1.5–2 million cases each year. India has a huge burden of bilateral (1.2 million) and unilateral (5 – 6 million) corneal blindness. Each year, the burden increases by 30,000 new cases of blindness. According to the Eye Bank Association of India, more than 1,00,000 corneal transplants are required annually, but only 25000 are actually done.
Says Dr Virender Sangwan, Director of Innovation, Dr Shroff’s Charity Eye Hospital, “At present, the only way to get a cornea for a transplant is through cadaver donors. Unfortunately, 40 per cent of the donated corneas do not meet the standards for the transplant. The fact that our supply of corneas is dependent on donors is our biggest challenge. Our partnership with Pandorum technologies aims to solve this challenge by exploring innovative therapies in the space of regenerative medicine where a human tissue is replaced with artificial cells.”
The ‘Bioengineered Cornea’ is a class of products powered by tissue-specific exosomes and tissue-mimetic biomaterials, to promote regeneration of healthy functional cornea. When this is applied as liquid drops on the cornea, it solidifies in less than 10 minutes using visible light and integrates to the patient’s cornea. Inside the solidified matrix, the biopolymer acts as sacrificial material supporting sustained release of exosomes which supresses the ulceration defining condition like inflammation, reverses fibrosis, regenerates nerves and restores corneal thickness.
“A bio-printed cornea or liquid cornea will allow patients a chance to regrow damaged corneas with minimal surgical intervention. It doesn’t need any stitching, we don’t need any donor cornea, and the drop fills the gap like a liquid in a mould,” he adds
“This centre is a step towards successfully restoring vision in patients suffering from corneal blindness with unmet clinical needs. Our flagship product bioengineered cornea combines molecular messages with cornea-mimetic biomaterial, to promote regeneration of healthy cornea. It’s an innovative approach with demonstrated results in pre-clinical studies and currently under clinical regulatory path as an advanced therapy- a true example of Made in India, for the world. As a translation centre SP-CORE builds the bridge between the lab bench to the patient’s bedside, crucial for successful clinical translation of such a first in class, first in human therapy,” informs Dr Tuhin Bhowmick, CEO and Director, Pandorum Technologies.