Nanopattering Polymeric Implantable Corneas

At A Glance

The device is an artificial corneal implant comprised of a single, nanopatterned material.  The device is durable, easy to implant, and robust against bacterial infection and other problems associated with other state-of-the-art ocular devices.
Benefits

  • Single, hard material architecture is durableand easy to implant
  • Decreased risk of infection and adhesive failure
  • The nanopatterns do not degrade over time

Technology Description

Corneal blindness accounts for up to 50% of blindness in developing countries.  An artificial cornea is necessary when a donor cornea is unusable or unavailable.  The leading artificial corneas are fabricated with multiple materials or pieces which are bonded together.  The junction of the two materials is often weak and prone to inflammation or infection.  As a result, antibiotics are required for the lifetime of the device.  Existing corneal implants are also prone to loss of transparency from overgrowth of host cells on the surface.  An ideal device promotes cell adhesion only on certain surfaces.  Other devices use chemical coatings to mediate this cellular response, but struggle with degradation of the coating’s effectiveness.
The inventors have developed an artificial corneal implant comprised of a single, nanopatterned material.  The implant can be fabricated from several polymers already approved by the FDA for their biocompatibility.  A single-piece design eliminates the problems associated with material junctions.  Cell response is mediated by nanopatterns that are etched into the surface of the implant.  The size and geometry of the nanopatterns can be altered to tune cellular adhesion. Certain areas of the implant are patterned to promote host cell adhesion and integration. Other parts are patterned to prevent any cell adhesion, keeping the relevant part of the implant transparent. In addition, the same nanostructures used to mediate cell response have also been shown to be naturally antimicrobial. 

State of Development

The methodology for device construction has been developed and a prototype with the desired curvature and nanopatterns has been fabricated. 

Patent Status: Patent pending. 

About the Lead Inventor

This novel invention comes from the Yee research group, which has multiple ongoing projects that center around the nano-topography of surfaces and their impact on the physical and biophysical properties of the material. These researchers have demonstrated that in altering the surface at the nanometer scale (which they achieve via high-resolution nanoimprinting techniques), they are able to learn about, and potentially dictate, how cells interact with the material and one another. The Yee group and their collaborators in the School of Medicine continue to reveal aspects of bacterial and mammalian cell dynamics, and apply lessons learned to engineering new and better biomedical devices.

Licensing Officer: Alvin Viray | email: aviray@uci.edu

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