Pig protein-derived eye implants restore sight in 14 blind patients 

Twenty patients with diseased or damaged corneas experienced significant improvements in their vision after they received implants made from pigskin protein, NBC News reported Aug. 11.

All patients, based in India or Iran, were suffering from keratoconus, a progressive condition in which the eye's protective outer layer thins and bulges forward. Fourteen of the patients were blind prior to the implant but regained some or all of their vision two years after the procedure — with three having perfect vision. Not all patients experienced the same degree of improvement. 

Researchers published their findings Aug. 11 in Nature Biotechnology.

Marian Macsai, MD, a clinical professor of ophthalmology at the University of Chicago who wasn't involved in the study, told NBC the technology could be a "game changer" for keratoconus patients.

"The concept that we could have bioengineered corneas would be revolutionary," Dr. Macsai said. "It would potentially eliminate the risk of rejection and potentially make corneas available to patients worldwide."

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