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Ink-jet printing technology could be a way to build new tissue meant to restore vision to people suffering from common forms of blindness due to retinal degeneration.

Researchers at the University of Cambridge used a standard ink-jet printer to form layers of two types of cells taken from the retinas of rats, and showed that the process did not compromise the cells’ health or ability to survive and grow in culture. Ink-jet printing has been used to deposit cells before, but this is the first time cells from an adult animal’s central nervous system have been printed.

The group hopes to develop the technology into a tool for generating new tissues that can be grown outside the eye and implanted in patients with retinal damage. Alternatively, the technique could potentially be used to insert cells directly into damaged retinas during ocular surgery, says Keith Martin, a professor of ophthalmology at the University of Cambridge, who led the research.

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