We successfully fabricated transparent, robust hydrogels as corneal substitutes from concentrated recombinant human type I and type III collagen solutions crosslinked with 1-ethyl-3-(3-dimethyl aminopropyl) carbodiimide (EDC) and N-hydroxysuccinimide (NHS). White light transmission through these gels is comparable or superior to that of human corneas. Hydrogels from both type I and type III collagens supported in vitro epithelium and nerve over-growth. While both these biocompatible hydrogels have adequate tensile strength and elasticity for surgical manipulation, type III collagen hydrogels tended to be mechanically superior. Twelve-month post-implantation results of type I recombinant collagen-based corneal substitutes into mini-pigs showed retention of optical clarity, along with regeneration of corneal cells, nerves and tear film. For clinical use, implants based on fully characterized, recombinant human collagen eliminate the risk of pathogen transfer or xenogeneic immuno-responses posed by animal collagens. (C) 2007 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
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