Rapid Automated Fabrication of Tissues (RAFT): Corneal Stem Cells

Lead Research Organisation: University College London
Department Name: Institute of Orthopaedics


The goals are to develop an automated system for rapid, simple production of 3D tissue constructs and to demonstrate pre-clinical proof of concept using human corneal limbal stem cells to make corneal constructs. UCL's patented process is based on plastic compression of cast collagen gels. Tissue equivalents can be made in minutes with embossed 3D spatial niches suitable for controlling stem cell growth. The process addresses issues of high cost, low yield and long cycle times seen with standard culture approaches to tissue engineering. Test equipment will be built and used to investigate the impact of process parameters on structure and function. Methods for making multi-layer constructs with micro-nano surface embossed patterns will be developed. We aim to show that the cell-seeded construct is biomimetic (mimics real tissue), controls cell differentiation rates and supports corneal regeneration. The approach will be applicable to a range of therapeutic applications as well as drug and toxicity testing.


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