Beauty is said to be in the eyes of the beholder, but this is difficult for those with physically impaired vision, especially people suffering Macular Degeneration. But there is hope, a gleaming beam of restoration lit by the ingenious strides of 24 year old Vanessa Restrepo-Schild from Oxford University.
Prior to now, the scientific conventions on artificial retinal research were based strictly on rigid, hard materials. Vanessa Restrepo-Schild has come up with an inventive deviation. With her Oxford University research team, Restrepo-Schild, edits history by deploying biological, synthetic tissues for retina correction. All of which were made in a laboratory environment.
The study sparkles with intellectual freshness and is sure to greatly revitalize the bionic implant industry. This has the prospects of extending into the creation of the development of unexampled scientific methods that closely simulate human body tissues. This would be of immense help in the remedial combat of critical eye defects like retinitis pigmentosa.
The retina is a critical part of the eye, performing almost the same function as what camera pixels play in photography. From the biological configuration of the human eye, the retina resides at the back, composed of protein cells that are responsible for absoring light into the electrical signals which are transported across the nervous system. These designated signals ultimately form a pictorial depiction of the scene you are observing consequent to the generation of reactions from the brain. Explaining her creation,Restrepo-Schild explained ‘The synthetic material can generate electrical signals, which stimulate the neurons at the back of our eye just like the original retina.”
Restrepo-Schild and her team thought quite a distance outside the box, building of a double layered retina. This in its own unique way copies the operational procedure of your retina. What Restrepo-Schild did next was to build a synthetic retina replica made from biological cell membrane proteins combined with delicate water droplets. Built in close resemblance to the working formula of a camera, Restrepo-Schild and her team replicated the function of pixels – being sensitive to light enough to manufacture a grey scale image.
Restrepo-Schild explained further the process:
“The human eye is incredibly sensitive, which is why foreign bodies like metal retinal implants can be so damaging, leading to inflammation and/or scaring. But a biological synthetic implant is soft and water based, so much more friendly to the eye environment.”
Restrepo-Schild never lacked the mental fuel to get to this milestone:
“I have always been fascinated by the human body, and want to prove that current technology could be used to replicate the function of human tissues, without having to actually use living cells. I have taken the principals behind vital bodily functions, e.g. our sense of hearing, touch and the ability to detect light, and replicated them in a laboratory environment with natural, synthetic components. I hope my research is the first step in a journey towards building technology that is soft and biodegradable instead of hard and wasteful.”
Well and deservedly, Restrepo-Schild has already submitted a patent application for her technological breakthrough. The next stop for her is an expansion of her and her team’s work to encompass a variety of colors extending into shapes. Restrepo-Schild would then extend the clinic trials to humans after initially trying it on animals.