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Man regains sight after world-first artificial cornea implantation

A 78-year-old bilaterally blind man has regained his sight after being implanted with what is reportedly the first artificial cornea that completely integrates with the eye wall with no reliance on donor tissue.

The surgery using the CorNet KPro – developed by Israeli startup CorNeat Vision – was performed at the Rabin Medical Center by Professor Irit Bahar this month.

The patient, legally blind Israeli man Jamal Furani, suffered from edema and other diseases and, as a result, had a damaged cornea. The surgery lasted less than an hour and upon removal of bandages he could read text and recognise family members.

The implant is designed to replace deformed, scarred or opacified corneas and is expected to fully rehabilitate vision. CorNet’s platform is a 100% synthetic, non-degradable porous material, which mimics the micro-structure of the extracellular matrix – the natural biological collagen mesh providing structural and biochemical support to surrounding cells.

When implanted, the material stimulates cellular proliferation, leading to progressive tissue integration. According to the company, the in-vivo platform enables the bio-mechanical integration of the permanent implant with live tissue and doesn’t trigger an adverse immune response.

An animation explaining the CorNet KPro technology and surgical procedure.

It’s hoped the technology will transform global corneal therapy and provide, for the first time, a reliable and scalable synthetic substitute to the human cornea.

“The surgical procedure was straightforward, and the result exceeded all of our expectations,” Bahar, the surgeon, said.

“The moment we took off the bandages was an emotional and significant moment. Moments like these are the fulfilment of our calling as doctors. We are proud of being at the forefront of this exciting and meaningful project which will undoubtedly impact the lives of millions.”

Prof Irit Bahar and Dr Gilad Litvin, together with the first-in-human KPro patient Jamal Furani and his daughter.

Dr Gilad Litvin, CorNeat Vision’s co-founder, chief medical officer and the inventor of the device, said unveiling this first implanted eye was a surreal moment.

“After years of hard work, seeing a colleague implant the CorNeat KPro with ease and witnessing a fellow human being regain his sight the following day was electrifying and emotionally moving, there were a lot of tears in the room,” he said.

“This is an extremely important milestone for CorNeat Vision, key in our journey to enable people around the world to fully enjoy their vision potential. I am grateful and honoured to work with an outstanding group of people whose hard work, diligence and creativity, made this moment possible.”

The CorNeat KPro’s first-in-human implantation is the first step in a multi-national clinical trial, aimed at attaining CE Mark, FDA Clearance and China NMPA approval.

A total of 10 patients are approved for the trial at Rabin Medical Center with two additional sites planned to open this month in Canada and six others at different stages in the approval process in France, the US, and the Netherlands.

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