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Corneal Research

Affiliated with the University of MelbourneUniversity of Melbourne Logo

Lead researcher: Associate Professor Mark Daniell

Corneal Research at CERA conducts two main streams of research: corneal disease research and surgical research into corneal transplantation and intra ocular lens implants.

The clear, protective layer at the front of the eye, called the cornea, can be damaged through disease, infection or injury that can block or distort vision. CERA’s Corneal Research carries out clinical research into new and more effective therapies for corneal diseases such as keratitis, keratoconus  and ocular surface disorders.

CERA’s Corneal Research also includes clinical trials into the efficacy and safety of surgical therapies such as corneal transplants, cataract surgery and laser surgery.  The ultimate aim of corneal transplantation research is to develop an artificial cornea or grow corneal cells in the laboratory to prevent problems with rejection. The team is also looking at cellular responses to infection in the cornea.

Current research

Stem cell research

  1. Continuing research into how corneal endothelial cells can be grown in the lab with aims to expand the procedure and develop ways to successfully transfer the tissue to the eye.
  2. Research to improve methods of culturing corneal epithelial adult stem cells in the laboratory and delivering the tissue to damaged eyes.
  3. Development of a bioengineered cornea.

Keratoconus research

  1. Evaluating the use of riboflavin combined with UVA treatment to confirm the treatment’s efficacy and safety profile.
  2. Modifying the composition of riboflavin to allow safer and more effective treatment.
  3. Assessment of flash cross-linking Corneal cross-linking is a procedure that improves the rigidity of the cornea by causing additional links between collegen fibres, the scaffolding system of the cornea. UV light reacts with riboflavin and causes the extra links to form. Flash cross-linking is a faster method of traditional cross-linking that uses surface wave elastometry.

Ocular surface disorder research

  1. Development of a therapeutic contact lens that will culture and deliver corneal epithelial cells. This work includes a clinical trial to establish the efficacy of the therapy in comparison with established therapy (where corneal epithelial cells are transplanted using amniotic membranes). Visit Hydrogel film polymer for repairing corneal tissue for more information.
  2. Investigation into innate immunity of the cornea and its role in infection.
  3. Investigation of Caciol drops – a novel matrix therapy for neurotrophic ulcers.
  4. Mucous membrane pemphigoid – investigation of serology and long term prognosis.
  5. Collagen cross-linking for microbial keratitis.

Corneal transplant research

  1. Evaluation of Femtosecond excimer laser treatment in various types of corneal transplant.
  2. Development of ultra thin endothelial grafts for Descemet’s Stripping Endotheilial Keratoplasty (DSEK).
  3. Development of corneal tissue biobank.