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Success Story:

Let there be sight

Wolfgang G.K. Müller-Lierheim

Transplanting the human cornea (1) can enable a blind person to see. But it requires the perfect human donor match and there are no guarantees of success. A group of EU-funded SMEs and researchers, however, has developed an artificial cornea that offers failed transplant patients a potentially life-changing alternative.

Every year in Europe, more than 40 000 people are added to the cornea transplant waiting list. Various problems related to traditional transplant procedures only add to the number: finding a compatible human donor; success rates being as low as 50%; and many patients rejecting their new cornea and suffering serious side effects.

From 2005 to 2008 , a consortium of 10 European SMEs and research institutes embarked on a research project to help those patients whose traditional transplant procedure failed. The group received EUR 1.18 million in funding under the Sixth Framework Programme (FP6) to design and produce an artificial cornea implant.

Three years later, the CORNEA ('Development of an artificial cornea for the human eye') research project successfully produced an implant that is now approved as a safe, custom-made medical device.

'Our project was a success because we had a high level multidisciplinary consortium whose abilities complemented each other to contribute to the end goal,' says Dr Wolfgang Müller-Lierheim, the project's coordinator. “We've had to overcome some extreme challenges, constantly question our targets and approaches and make decisions quickly and unanimously - not to mention create something that has never been achieved. You cannot imagine how happy we all are about our achievements.'

Vision for success

  • Contact:
    Dr Wolfgang G.K. Müller-Lierheim
    Project Coordinator, CORONIS GmbH
    Tel: +49-89-5203 2880