FAMU pharmacist makes scientific history

Florida A&M University (FAMU) College of Pharmacy & Pharmaceutical Sciences (COPPS) researchers have, for the first time in the United States, created corneas using a high performance 3D printer.

Funded by the National Science Foundation, the project is geared toward 3D printing and additive processing and could lead to breakthroughs in helping patients with eye problems and reduce the need to conduct testing on animals.

FAMU Pharmacy professor Mandip Sachdeva, Ph.D., who leads the three-person team, said this process of manufacturing corneas using high throughput 3D printing technology, which could print a number of corneas in a matter of minutes, should become routine.

Research assistant Paul Dinh, Professor Mandip Sachdeva and doctoral student Shallu Kutlehria spent the 18 months creating an entire 3D model of a blinking eyeball. The corneas are printed in 3D by a bio-printer and made from materials including human cells.

The group, which includes, Shallu Kutlehria, a doctoral student from India, and Paul Dinh, a biology major from Tallahassee, spent the past year and a half creating an entire 3D model of a blinking eyeball. The corneas are printed in 3D by a bio-printer and made from materials including human cells.

Research assistant Dinh, 20, became interested in the field while in high school. He said this project requires pushing the envelope on cutting-edge technology.

“Regular 3D printers, normally extrude some sort of hot plastic that eventually takes the shape of whatever you want,” Dinh said. “With a bio-printer, instead of extruding a hot plastic, we can extrude materials that are similar or present in the human body.”

A United Kingdom scientist created the cornea technology, but the FAMU laboratory is working to make it more efficient by creating a mold to print multiple corneas. The diameter and dimensions of an average cornea are entered into the printer, taking nearly 10 minutes to produce six corneas. FAMU News

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