You are using an older browser version. Please use a supported version for the best MSN experience.

Scientist's global vision for fish eyes

NZ NewswireNZ Newswire 11/05/2016

One scientist is hoping to fix a cornea donor shortage in New Zealand - and to find a use for the country's left-over fish eyes at the same time.

University of Auckland biochemist Laura Domigan has been given a grant to look into whether fish eyes, a low-cost byproduct of the fishing industry, can be turned into corneas - the clear, protective layer at the front of the eye.

More than 250 corneal transplants are performed in New Zealand each year and with an ageing population, demand has grown for technology to provide an alternative to donors.

Worldwide, about 10 million people are blind due to damaged corneas, but only about 100,000 transplants are performed each year because of donor shortages.

Dr Domigan's study proposes recycling the fish left-overs into proteins that can be used to manufacture cornea substitutes.

"Tissue-engineered corneas offer the opportunity for long-term tissue repair, as opposed to non-degradable artificial corneas, which may result in host rejection and post-operative complications," she said.

The $69,000 grant will allow her to set up a low-cost clinic for about 18 months to conduct a feasibility study into the process.

And if fixing a organ-donation shortage wasn't enough, the Health Research Council, which gave her the grant, says it also hold the possibility to turning fish eyes from "scraps" into "highly-valued biomaterials".

image beaconimage beaconimage beacon