A team led by Professor Gerard Sutton from the University of Sydney, the University of Wollongong and the NSW Organ and Tissue Donation Service has been awarded a $1.1M grant to develop the iFiX System, a novel invention for the treatment of corneal ulcers.
The iFix System consists of a proprietary iFixInk which is printed onto the cornea with the iFixPen. It has specific qualities that allows printability as a liquid but sets within two minutes as a transparent gel. The ink has been shown in vitro to accelerate epithelialisation. It also has sufficient mechanical properties to seal a full thickness wound and still remain transparent.
There are 55,000 cases of corneal ulceration presenting to accident and emergency departments in Australia each year and the iFix System could be used to reduce pain, protect from infection and speed up recovery. In addition, the iFix System may have a role in photorefractive keratectomy (PRK), providing pain relief and lessening the time to full healing. The bio-ink itself can be customised depending on the type of injury and can carry antibiotics and corneal cells.
The $1.1M grant from NSW Medical Device Fund is the result of a unique collaboration between the team at the Save Sight Institute; Sydney University; Wollongong University Intelligent Polymer Institute, led by NSW Scientist of the year Professor Gordon Wallace; and the team at the Lions NSW Eye Bank (NSW Organ & Tissue Donation Service).
The iFix System is one of a number of innovations being developed through the corneal bio-engineering programme. Ultimately the team hopes to be able to 3D bio-print an entire cornea. This is just the beginning.
iFixInk is transparent and printable