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Research_

Cornea bioengineering and NSW Tissue Bank

Shining a light on corneal blindness
We’re working on new diagnosis and treatment methods for corneal transplantations. We aim to prevent blindness and improve outcomes for patients affected by corneal diseases.

About us

We work with the NSW Tissue Bank to address cornea blindness within the community. Over the past two years, we have been researching and supplying donated eye tissue to patients in NSW to save their sight. 

We work on a number of specific corneal conditions and the regeneration of the corneal endothelium. Our current research areas are:

What are the issues?

The cornea is the clear window at the front of the eye that plays a vital role in providing refractive power for the retina to focus on what we see.

A transparent cornea is vital to allow light to reach the retina.

Research highlights

We currently have three streams of research and various research opportunities.

Keratoconus, or conical cornea, is the most common cause for cornea transplants in Australia, affecting at least 10,000 people. The condition is prevalent in the country, with around 400 new cases diagnosed each year.

Keratoconus arises from the thinning and distortion of the cornea which leads to the loss of visual function. This non-inflammatory condition is progressive and affects both eyes, characterised by the degenerative bulging (ecstasia) of the cornea. However, the cause of this disease is unknown.

We aim to find out the exact causes of the disease to develop effective diagnosis and treatment methods. To date, we have identified a potential interaction network specific to this condition. Our research group continues to validate this molecular network. Additionally, we are on the process of developing an artificial intelligent based system for early diagnosis and progression prediction for keratoconus patients.

Our research on endothelial diseases focus on fuchs endothelial dystrophy and pseudophakic bullos keratopathy. We have now successfully cultured human endothelial cells for development of cell based therapy to treat these diseases.

Our team aims to develop novel treatments using biomaterials and scaffolds to help regenerate cornea to prevent corneal blindness.

Our research focuses on testing different biomaterials and cultural subtracts to ease and improve the success rate of corneal transplantation. We have began to culture and develop new methods of transplanting corneal cells, including epithelial, stromal and endothelial cells.

We initiated and established an Australia Corneal Bioengineering Working Group with research teams from NSW Tissue Bank, University of Wollongong, Queensland University of Technology, Centre of Eye Research, Australia (Melbourne) and Melbourne University to work together to build a bioengineered cornea.

This research is conducted in collaboration with Professor Gordon Wallace from the University of Wollongong.

Current research projects available to prospective postgraduate students include:

  • validating the key genes that regulate keratoconus
  • testing potential treatments on cultured primary keratoconus corneal cells
  • corneal epithelial/endothelial cell regeneration and its application in clinical settings.

To enquire about these research opportunities or commercial collaboration, please contact Dr Jingjing You at jing.you@sydney.edu.au.

Professor Gerard Sutton

Gerard Sutton

Dr Con Petsoglou

Dr Jingjing You

Save Sight Institute

Address
  • South Block, Sydney Eye Hospital 8 Macquarie Street Sydney NSW 2000