Mass Eye and Ear Scientists Develop New Gel To Heal Eye Injuries Without Surgery

An advanced adhesive technology developed at Massachusetts Eye and Ear (MEE) could one day render surgery obsolete for certain corneal injuries—including those that would today require corneal transplantation. The adhesive, called GelCORE (Gel for COrneal REgeneration), is packed with light-activated chemicals that can seal cuts or ulcers on the cornea, then encourage tissue regeneration.

The material addresses an unmet need in the care of corneal injuries—a major cause of new cases of blindness each year, especially among the young. Existing adhesives and corneal transplants carry risks of further injury and vision loss.

GelCORE adhesive is the first to use visible light, as opposed to ultraviolet light, which carries a level of toxicity that visible light does not. In preclinical trials, MEE researchers observed firm adhesion of GelCORE to corneal defects, without inflammation, and native-like tissue generation over time. The team is now working to fine-tune the gel’s applications and initiate plans to test the technology in human patients in the near future.

Reza Dana

We set out to create a transparent biomaterial that would have the same mechanics as the cornea, and that would bind the defect in the eye, capable of releasing drugs, and allowing the cells of the native cornea to mesh with the adhesive and regenerate the injured tissue. This way the corneal defect will not only close, but the tissue will regenerate.

Reza Dana, MD
Director of the Cornea and Refractive Surgery Service
Massachusetts Eye and Ear
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