Japanese scientists develop ‘corneas on chips’ to simulate eye blink

Although scientists have succeeded in modelling various “organs on the chip,” the eyes are particularly challenging because the tear film moves regularly on its surface when we blink,media New Atlas reported. The action was recently replicated in a new device. The new tool, the cornea on the chip, was developed by researchers at Kyoto University in Japan – an eye cornea, a transparent film at the front of the eye that covers the pupil, iris and front room.

Japanese scientists develop 'corneas on chips' to simulate eye blink

This 3D printing device consists of four upper and four lower channels separated by a transparent polyester porous membrane. Human corneal cells incubate each upper channel for 7 days, during which time they grow and form a solid barrier to cells at the top of the membrane. The fluid is then pumped through the upper and lower chambers, applying pressure to both sides of the cornea tissue layer. This simulates a way in which the real cornea is pressured on one side through the movement of the eyelid’s blink and tears, while on the other side is pressured through fluid in the eye.

When the researchers tested the cornea on the chip, they found that the simulated wink actually changed the shape of the corneal cells and increased the production of their filaments, helping to maintain the flexibility and stretchability of the cells.

Japanese scientists develop 'corneas on chips' to simulate eye blink

Rodi Abdalkader, a drug scientist who co-led the study with scientist Ken-ichiro Kamei, said: “It’s really interesting to see that blink-like stimulation has a direct biological impact on these cells. We often wink unknowingly. Each blink, shear stress is applied to the corneal barrier, allowing the cornea anti-defense system to secrete filaments, such as keratin, to overcome the effects of stress. “

The researchers hope that once further developed, the technology could be used to study eye diseases and evaluate experimental drugs. A paper on the study was recently published in Lab on a Chip.

This isn’t the first chip we’ve ever seen that simulates a wink. Last year, a team at the University of Pennsylvania released a model that actually included a moving gelatin flat “eyelid.”