The problem we solve: We seeks to expand access to transplant materials for cornea replacement and repair and reduce the associated cost. Insufficient donor cornea tissue limits access to keratoplasty in some regions. In an epidemiological study (conducted from August 2012 to August 2013), 184,576 corneal transplants were reported by 116 countries (Gain et al., 2016). However, the total number of patients who could potentially benefit from corneal transplantation may far outnumber the few who receive the surgery. Per a 2010 global estimate, corneal opacities account for 1% of visual impairments (inclusive of blindness), affecting 2.85 million (Mariotti, 2012). In addition to the global scarcity of donor cornea tissue, donor tissue rejection is a barrier to reducing blindness through keratoplasty. Transplants survival rates fall over time, presenting at ~ 90% within the first year and falling to ~40% by year 15 (Avadhanam, Smith, & Liu, 2015).
About our solution: The presented solution is an engineered corneal tissue: an acellular biosynthetic implant for corneal replacement or repair. Key advantages of the implant include its ability to: sustain critical quality attributes under ambient shipping and storage conditions, be surgically installed like donor tissue, sharply reduce the risk of immune rejection, and provide a more affordable and accessible option for cornea restoration.Progress to date:
An early prototype of the implant is under development. Prototype development is a collaborative effort between Scigofer, LLC and Lehigh University. Current data shows that the implant supports cell growth, demonstrates transparency, and maintains structural integrity during suturing.
Creator: Amelia Zellander
Bio: The company founder has a vision for expanding options for the repair and replacement of human tissues. Her career experiences include: 1) Over 5 years of industry R&D with medical device and pharmaceutical products, 2) Five years of academic research in tissue engineering, 3) Management and leadership roles in science and government.
Title: Founder, CEO
Advanced Degree(s): PhD
The technology provides an alternative to donated cornea tissue that is highly accessible and has a room temperature shelf-life.
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