Sat, Nov 04, 2017 - Page 3 News List

Human trial for porcine cornea awaits approval

By Huang Wen-yu and Jake Chung  /  Staff reporter, with staff writer

Pending approval by the Ministry of Health and Welfare, a clinical trial application by the Acro Biomedical Co to transplant a porcine cornea into a human might prove to be a blessing for patients waiting for corneal transplants, the company said yesterday.

Corneal transplants are difficult to perform and often result in transplant rejection, subjecting patients having undergone transplant surgery to take anti-rejection agents on a regular basis, it said.

The company noted that a pig’s eye and a human eye are similar in size, while the tissue structure of the cornea is identical, Acro chief executive Hsieh Dar-jen (謝達仁) said.

After extracting a porcine cornea using supercritical carbon dioxide (SCCO2) technology, the cornea is lysed of cell debris, including the nuclei, while the stromal structures and appropriate mechanical properties are retained, Hsieh said.

The corneas have been tested on rabbits and Chihuahuas without side effects, Hsieh said, adding that the company was in the process of applying for clinical trials on human test subjects.

If approved, the company is looking to conduct 20 clinical trials starting next year, Hsieh said, adding that if the clinical trials achieve 100 percent success, porcine cornea extracted with SCCO2 technology would officially become a transplantable organ by 2020.

Acro has also authorized another biomedical company based in Australia, which is to launch simultaneous clinical trials, he said.

The cornea’s primary function is to bend light and if it is damaged, it can cause blurriness or photophobia, Kaohsiung Veterans General Hospital doctor Lee Yin-yang (李尹暘) said.

If the cornea becomes severely scarred, a transplant is required to regain eyesight, Lee said.

However, patients often have to wait one to two years for a transplant, said Lee, citing WHO statistics that showed an annual increase of 600,000 individuals requiring corneal transplants, while cornea donations number only 100,000.

If the trials are a success, it would greatly benefit patients waiting for transplants, Lee said.

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