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Cornea engineering on biodegradable polyesters

Zorlutuna, Pınar
Cornea is the outermost layer of the eye and has an important role in vision. Damage of cornea due to injuries or infections could lead to blindness lowering the quality of life of the patient severely. In such cases, transplantation or artificial corneas have been used for treatment but both had drawbacks. The novel approach for corneal replacements is the tissue engineering of the cornea, a promising method which would be free of these drawbacks, if successful. In this study, carriers for tissue engineering of the cornea were designed and tested in vitro. Blends of biodegradable and biocompatible polyesters of natural (PHBV8) and synthetic (PLLA) origin were used to construct these carriers. For the epithelial layer of the cornea, PLLA-PHBV8 micropatterned films were prepared with solvent casting and seeded with D407 (retinal pigment epithelial) cells. In order to achieve proper cell growth, the films were coated with fibronectin. For the stromal layer of the cornea, highly porous foams of PLLA-PHBV8 were prepared by lyophilization and seeded with 3T3 cells (fibroblasts). A new approach was developed to create a combination of the film and the foam to obtain a surface patterned, 3 dimensional cell carrier. These carriers were seeded with Saos-2 cells (osteosarcoma cells) in the preliminary optimization studies and with D407 and 3T3 cells in further studies. The cell numbers on the carriers were quantified by using MTS assay (non-radioactive cell proliferation assay) and the cell proliferation on polymeric carriers was significantly higher than that of control (Tissue culture polystyrene) by the day 14. Characterization of these cells and the carrier was done using a variety of microscopic methods. The micrographs showed that the foam had a highly porous structure and the pores were interconnected. 3T3 cells were found to be distributed quite homogeneously at the