India’s leading eyecare institute Dr Shroff’s Charity Eye Hospital today collaborated with Bengaluru-based Pandorum Technology to inaugurate a one-of-its-kind centre offering advanced regenerative therapeutics for patients suffering from corneal blindness. The initiative hopes to help in bridging the demand-access for cornea availability by making regenerative treatments accessible for millions.
According to the WHO, corneal opacity accounts for over 4% of blindness worldwide, leading to more than 1.5–2 million cases each year. India has a huge burden of bilateral (1.2 million) and unilateral (5 – 6 million) corneal blindness. Each year, the burden increases by 30,000 new cases of blindness. According to the Eye Bank Association of India, more than 1,00,000 corneal transplants are required annually, but only 25000 are actually done.
Dr Virender Sangwan, Director of Innovation, Dr Shroff’s Charity Eye Hospital said, “At present, the only way to get a cornea for a transplant is through cadaver donors i.e., people who have pledged to donate their organs upon their death. Unfortunately, 40% of the donated corneas do not meet the standards for the transplant. The fact that our supply of corneas is dependent on donors is our biggest challenge. Our partnership with Pandorum technologies aims to solve this challenge by exploring innovative therapies in the space of regenerative medicine where a human tissue is replaced with artificial cells.”
The ‘Bioengineered Cornea’ is a class of products powered by tissue-specific exosomes and tissue-mimetic biomaterials, to promote regeneration of healthy functional cornea. When this is applied as liquid drops on the cornea, it solidifies in less than 10 minutes using visible light and integrates to the patient’s cornea. Inside the solidified matrix, the biopolymer acts as sacrificial material supporting sustained release of exosomes which supresses the ulceration defining condition like inflammation, reverses fibrosis, regenerates nerves and restores corneal thickness.
“A bio-printed cornea or liquid cornea will allow patients a chance to regrow damaged corneas with minimal surgical intervention. It doesn’t need any stitching, we don’t need any donor cornea, and the drop fills the gap like a liquid in a mould,” Dr Sangwan added.
Speaking at the occasion, Dr. Tuhin Bhowmick, CEO and Director, Pandorum Technologies said, “Our long-standing partnership with Dr. Shroff’s Charity Eye Hospital has been extremely fruitful, and we are excited to launch the Shroff-Pandorum for Ocular Regeneration (SP-CORE) centre – a step towards successfully restoring vision in patients suffering from corneal blindness with unmet clinical needs. Our flagship product bioengineered cornea combines molecular messages with cornea-mimetic biomaterial, to promote regeneration of healthy cornea. It’s an innovative approach with demonstrated results in pre-clinical studies and currently under clinical regulatory path as an advanced therapy- a true example of Made in India, for the world. As a translation centre SP-CORE builds the bridge between the lab bench to the patient’s bedside, crucial for successful clinical translation of such a first in class, first in human therapy.”
Dr Umang Mathur, CEO and Executive Director, Dr Shroff’s Charity Eye Hospital said, “These innovative treatments hold promise for those who are visually impaired, offering them new hope as they seek improved outcomes and a better quality of life. The cutting-edge facility will also allow us to further develop advanced regenerative therapies that have the potential to transform the healthcare field by promoting tissue regeneration and repair. I would personally like to thank Dr Sangwan, whose passion and dedication to the mission of eradicating avoidable blindness has been instrumental in creating a future where there are alternative solutions to corneal blindness, apart from transplants.”