The first human corneas have been printed in 3D by scientists at Newcastle University, in a technique that could be used in future to ensure an unlimited supply.

Researchers mixed used stem cells from a healthy donor corneal with alginate and collagen to create a “bio-ink, which was extruded in concentric circles using a 3D bio-printer. Printing took less than 10 minutes. The cells were then shown to culture – or grow.

The scientists, including lead author, Abigali Isaacson from the Institute of Genetic Medicine at Newcastle University, also demonstrated that they could build a cornea to match the patient’s specifications.

The dimensions of the printed tissue were originally taken from an actual cornea, enabling researchers to rapidly print a cornea that matched the required size and shape.