Introduced the first liquid retinal prosthesis

Maria Azarova

Introduced the first liquid retinal prosthesis

5.4

Italian scientists talked about a new, faster, more effective and also less invasive method for treating diseases such as retinitis pigmentosa and age-related macular degeneration. The development is based on photoactive polymer nanoparticles.

The medicine
# eye
#nanotechnology
#prosthesis
#prosthetics
#retinitis
# retina
#blindness

Liquid retinal prosthesis
Photoactive nanoparticles (red) cover the retinal neuron membrane (blue nucleus) / © IIT-Istituto Italiano di Tecnologia (M. Bramini)

Scientists at the Italian Institute of Technology (Genoa) have developed a revolutionary liquid retinal prosthesis. As reported in a study published the day before in the journal Nature Nanotechnology, the prosthesis will help fight diseases such as retinitis pigmentosa (an inherited, degenerative eye disease that causes severe visual impairment and often leads to blindness) and age-related macular degeneration.


Artificial retina in liquid form mimics the properties of a biomaterial and has a high spatial resolution. It consists of an aqueous component with photoactive polymer nanoparticles (no more than 350 nanometers in size), which, according to scientists, behave like “tiny photovoltaic cells” based on carbon and hydrogen. It is these nanoparticles that are designed to replace damaged photoreceptors (light-sensitive sensory neurons of the retina).

The authors of the work conducted an experiment (so far at the preclinical stage, in rodents), as a result of which it was found that natural light stimulation of nanoparticles causes the activation of retinal neurons, free from degeneration, and mimics the way healthy photoreceptors work. As a result, thanks to the liquid prosthesis, the rodents returned functional vision.

The principle of the introduction of a new artificial liquid retina / © IIT-Istituto Italiano di Tecnologia (M. Bramini)

Compared to other existing techniques and developments, the new liquid prosthesis is a fast, efficient and less hazardous method of performing surgery: it involves microinjection of a mass of nanoparticles directly under the retina, where they replace old photoreceptors. At the same time, the advantages of polymer prostheses remain, which are naturally sensitive to light and do not require glasses or other protection.

“Our results highlight the potential value of nanomaterials in the development of second-generation retinal prostheses for the treatment of degenerative blindness and represent an important step forward,” said Fabio Benfenati, one of the study’s authors. – The creation of a liquid artificial retinal implant has great potential. Incorporation of photoactive polymers into particles that are smaller than photoreceptors enhances interaction with retinal neurons and makes it easy to cover the entire retinal surface and scale photoactivation at the level of a single photoreceptor. ”

Now scientists plan to continue experiments and trials to confirm their results and move directly to treating people.

Recently, researchers at the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology have created a robotic eye that mimics the real human eye and can actually see. In addition, it turned out that age-related macular degeneration will affect 77 million Europeans by mid-century.

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The medicine
# eye
#nanotechnology
#prosthesis
#prosthetics
#retinitis
# retina
#blindness

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