This weekend, NASA will launch a new scientific experiment on the International Space Station, which will explore the possibility of manufacturing artificial retinas in microgravity.
The research project, carried out by the biotechnology company LambdaVision, represents an important step towards the company’s goal of bioprinting new retinas to restore the sight of blind patients.
The company’s goal is to make new retinas from light-sensitive proteins, similar to those found naturally in a healthy eyeball. Once the retinas are ready, the company hopes to restore vision to patients with diseases such as age-related macular degeneration.
NASA has been interested in manufacturing biomaterials in space for some time. Last year, the space agency collaborated with the startup Techshot to 3D print human hearts in microgravity, so that the complex and fragile vasculature of the organs does not collapse under its own weight.
However, LambdaVision has a slightly different reason to venture into space, he told Futurism scientific chief Jordan Greco.
“While LambdaVision artificial retina can be efficiently developed in Earth laboratories, producing artificial retina in low Earth orbit improves the homogeneity of alternating layers of proteins and polymers, resulting in stability, performance and optical quality of the multilayer.” , said Greco. These improvements could reduce the amount of materials needed to produce the artificial retina, reduce costs and speed up production time for future preclinical and clinical efforts.
This is just the first of several experiments that LambdaVision has planned in space. After learning how the proteins he intends to use in his retinas, both in terms of functionality and stability, in a microgravity environment, will spend the next three years in the process of making his retinas. . And finally, she hopes to grow them on board the space station.
“While we are currently fully focused on our ability to restore significant vision to patients with retinitis pigmentosa and age-related macular degeneration, we are continually supported by the great potential of Earth’s orbit for wider industry implications,” he said. Greco in a Press release.