A research team has successfully developed an electro-spun biomaterial that can aid nerve regeneration in the eye, with animal studies demonstrating its effectiveness, National Taiwan University Hospital (NTUH) said yesterday.
The team used poly(gamma-benzyl-L-glutamate), or PBG — a fibrous scaffold — to develop a method to guide nerve growth and stimulate nerve regeneration, NTUH said, adding that the team won this year’s National Innovation Award.
The cornea, retina and optic nerve contain a lot of nerve tissue, and nerve damage is the most common reason for vision loss, NTUH’s Department of Ophthalmology said, adding that current methods to regenerate nerve cells and repair damaged optic nerves have limited effect.
Photo courtesy of the National Taiwan University Hospital
The research team’s codirector, Chen Wei-li (陳偉勵), a professor in the ophthalmology department, said that the cornea has the highest nerve density of any tissue in the human body, so corneal nerve damage recovery is usually a lengthy process and sometimes the damage is permanent, while treatment costs are high.
The research team, consisting of members from the ophthalmology department, National Taiwan University’s (NTU) Department of Materials Science and Engineering, and Academia Sinica, spent seven years developing the electro-spun biomaterial, which can be used to build a biomimetic scaffold, Chen said.
Intracorneal implantation of PBG in animals showed that it can facilitate corneal nerve regeneration better than other artificial corneas, she said.
The PBG, which has built-in neurotransmitter glutamate, is synthesized and fabricated via electrospinning — a method to produce fibers that uses electric forces to manipulate charged threads on a tiny scale — into scaffolds, she said.
The aligned fibers guide the growth and extension of nerves, Chen said, adding that animal studies suggest the method can repair 80 to 90 percent of damaged nerves without side effects of inflammation or infection.
NTU Department of Materials Science and Engineering professor Su Wei-fang (林唯芳), another codirector of the research team, said that the biomaterial not only serves as a scaffold, but also releases glutamate to stimulate nerve regeneration.
The research team invented the biomaterial, while teams from Harvard University and the University of Colorado have sought to cooperate with it, Su said.
Glaucoma is a common eye condition that can lead to loss of vision, so hopefully the biomaterial would help people with the condition regain their vision, she said.
OFFLINE: People who do not wish to register can get the money from select ATMs using their bank card, ID number and National Health Insurance card number Online registration for NT$6,000 (US$196.32) cash payments drawn from last year’s tax surplus is to open today for eligible people whose national ID or permanent residency number ends in either a zero or a one, the Ministry of Finance said on Monday. Officials from the ministry revealed which days Taiwanese and eligible foreigners would be able to register for the cash payments at a joint news conference with the Ministry of Digital Affairs. Online registration is to open tomorrow for those whose number ends in a two or three; on Friday for those that end in a four or five: on Saturday
TECH PROGRAM: A US official said that an important part of the delegation’s trip would be to meet with Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co executives The US is to send officials in charge of chip development to Taiwan, Japan and South Korea to promote cooperation in the global semiconductor supply chain, the US Department of Commerce said on Tuesday. Chips Program Office Director Michael Schmidt announced the visit, which marks the first time officials from the office are to visit the three nations since it was set up in September last year. “As semiconductors and technologies continue to evolve, the United States will keep working with allies and partners to develop coordinated strategies to ensure that malign actors cannot use the latest technologies to undermine our collective
Civil Aeronautics Administration (CAA) officials are investigating why a Starlux Airlines flight to Penang, Malaysia, returned to Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport nearly two hours after takeoff yesterday morning. The airline said in a statement that Flight JX721 to Penang took off from Taoyuan airport at 9:20am. “After the dashboard showed a signal of an abnormality in the hydraulic system, the captain followed standard operating procedures and returned the flight to Taoyuan airport for safety precautions,” the airline said, adding that the flight landed safely at the airport at 11:04am. The airline arranged for the passengers to have lunch after the flight landed and
Seven senior faculty members, including the principal, of a high school in Taichung were temporarily suspended from their jobs on Friday, pending an investigation by the Taichung Education Bureau into alleged bullying and abuse that led to the suicide of a student last month. The city’s education officials were too slow to suspend those involved, the student’s father told a news conference on Wednesday, at which Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Legislator Chang Liao Wan-chien (張廖萬堅) and members of the Humanistic Education Foundation were also present. The boy had been a good student and a high achiever during elementary and junior-high, and had