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Helping the Corneal Stroma Stay in Shape

2016-06-22

 

TOPIC: Helping the Corneal Stroma Stay in Shape
SPEAKER: Prof. Julie Kornfield, California Institute of Technology, USA
TIME:June 22 (Wednesday) AM9:00 
LOCATION: Room 528, Chemistry Building A 
INVITER: Prof. Huai Sun ,Prof. Huiming Xiong 
 


Abstract: The cornea of the eye is a remarkable collagen-­‐based hydrogel that is 78%wt water, yet it has the strength to serve as a stable optical element despite continuous tension imposed by intraocular pressure. The cornea’s balance of clarity and permeability with mechanical strength is maintained by the constant degradation and replacement of its constituents. When these are out of balance either due to excessive degradation or insufficient replacement, the cornea begins to bulge outward (e.g. keratoconus). Through a Caltech-­‐UCSF collaboration we have developed a gentle method to reinforce the tissue using photoactivated crosslinking of the biomolecules already present in the stroma. The crosslinking is activated by visible light (using green light to activate the photosensitizer eosin Y), which shows low toxicity to the cells in the corneal stroma (keratocytes) and behind it (corneal endothelial cells). To progress to the clinic, we are exploring novel, minimally invasive ways to penetrate the cornea’s epithelial barrier for drug delivery. This talk will present the visible-­‐light photocrosslinking method, the reason that it motivates drug delivery to the stroma without disruption of the epithelium, and the approach we are exploring to achieve it.

 

Biography:  Julie Kornfield ,  Ph.D. – Professor of Chemical Engineering at Caltech, is an expert in polymer physics, including the physical properties of ocular tissues (cornea, sclera, vitreous). She has won numerous awards, including the Dillon Medal of the American Physical Society, and is a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. She is a co-founder of Calhoun Vision and led the development of the material now used to make intraocular lens implants that can be adjusted non-invasively after implantation. Her research on the cornea of the eye includes in vitro studies of guided tissue regeneration and therapeutic crosslinking with very low toxicity. Her current research includes studies of liquid-crystalline elastomers, bottlebrush polymers, flow-induced crystallization of polymers and associative polymers for improved safety and performance of fuels.