Damaged corneas can lead to blindness. Due to the worldwide shortage of donor corneas there is a tremendous unmet demand for a robust corneal replacement that supports growth of the major corneal cell types. Commercial artificial corneas comprise plastic polymers that do not adequately support diverse cell growth. We present a new class of protein elastomer-dominated synthetic corneas with attractive performance that intimately couple biologically active tropoelastin to mechanically robust and durable protein silk. Fabricated films substantially replicate the natural cornea physically and by interacting with both key cells types used in cornea repair. Performance encompasses optical clarity at high transmittance, compatible refractive index, substantial glucose permeability, compliant mechanical properties, and support of both growth and function of corneal epithelial and endothelial cells.
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|Published - Jan 2019