Tissue Engineering for Corneal Reconstruction
The need for tissue-engineered alternatives to replace donor-derived epithelium, stroma and endothelium remains high. Transparency and tissue strength are two essential properties to take into account when considering corneal replacements. The natural structure is difficult to reproduce, since the strength and transparency of the tissue are characteristics inherent to the intricate architecture of the cornea. Similarly another vital challenge is biocompatibility, as it is crucial that tissue- engineered constructs are well-retained in the eye. Currently, there are two approaches to corneal tissue engineering; a cell-based approach and a scaffold- based approach. In cell-based approaches, the cells themselves and the information that lies within the cells are the most important contributors to the tissue engineered construct. This approach is most often used with regards to regeneration of the epithelium and the endothelium, since these layers are closely associated with their basal layers in the cornea in vivo. Scaffold-based approaches are more focused on the development and optimization of new substrates to mimic the corneal stroma.