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Artificial retina may treat one of the main causes of vision loss in adults

Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is an eye disease that gets worse over time and can lead to total blindness in its later stages, making it one of the leading causes of vision loss in older people. A new treatment developed by researchers in Spain holds real potential to treat this disease.

Coming from scientists at Universidad Complutense de Madrid, the new treatment involves a new biohybrid artificial retina, made of silk, and loaded with new human cells that can integrate and repair the damage done by AMD.

As reported by New Atlas, the device is made of several layers of retinal cells, held together with silk fibroin films — a biomaterial 100 percent biocompatible with human tissue — and encased in a protective gel. Ultimately, the idea would be to surgically implant the device into the eyes of AMD patients to restore their vision.

The novel technology includes cell types that can detect light and support and nourish retinal neurons, as well as stem cells that can help the implanted cells mesh more easily with those of patients. Essentially, the implant’s purpose would be to help the neurons grow and develop, repairing the damage caused by the disease.

While clinical trials are still a long way off, the team tested the artificial retinas in lab cultures and found that the neurons survived and grew, making new connections between retinal cells.

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