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Three-dimensional printing of the retina

Lorber, Barbara; Hsiao, Wen-Kai; Martin, Keith R.

Current Opinion in Ophthalmology: May 2016 - Volume 27 - Issue 3 - p 262–267
doi: 10.1097/ICU.0000000000000252
TRANSLATIONAL RESEARCH: Edited by Jason Hsu and Sunir J. Garg
Editor's Choice

Purpose of review Biological three-dimensional printing has received a lot of media attention over recent years with advances made in printing cellular structures, including skin and heart tissue for transplantation. Although limitations exist in creating functioning organs with this method, the hope has been raised that creating a functional retina to cure blindness is within reach. The present review provides an update on the advances made toward this goal.

Recent findings It has recently been shown that two types of retinal cells, retinal ganglion cells and glial cells, can be successfully printed using a piezoelectric inkjet printer. Importantly, the cells remained viable and did not change certain phenotypic features as a result of the printing process. In addition, recent advances in the creation of complex and viable three-dimensional cellular structures have been made.

Summary Some first promising steps toward the creation of a functional retina have been taken. It now needs to be investigated whether recent findings can be extended to other cells of the retina, including those derived from human tissue, and if a complex and viable retinal structure can be created through three-dimensional printing.

aCentre for Brain Repair, University of Cambridge, Cambridge, UK

bParacelsus Medical University, Salzburg, Austria

cResearch Center Pharmaceutical Engineering GmbH, Graz, Austria

dCambridge NIHR Biomedical Research Centre

eEye Department, Addenbrooke's Hospital

fWellcome Trust – Medical Research Council Cambridge Stem Cell Institute, Cambridge, UK

*Barbara Lorber, Wen-Kai Hsiao, and Keith R. Martin contributed equally to the writing of this article.

Correspondence to Professor Keith R. Martin, Cambridge Centre for Brain Repair, University of Cambridge, Cambridge, CB2 0PY, UK. Tel: +44 1223 216427; fax: +44 1223 331174; e-mail:

This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Non Commercial License 4.0, where it is permissible to download, share and reproduce the work in any medium, provided it is properly cited. The work cannot be used commercially.

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