Researchers at Italian Institute of Technology (IIT) has led to the revolutionary development of an artificial liquid retinal prosthesis to counteract the effects of diseases such as retinitis pigmentosa and age-related macular degeneration that cause the progressive degeneration of photoreceptors of the retina, resulting in blindness. The “second generation” artificial retina is biomimetic, offers high spatial resolution and consists of an aqueous component in which photoactive polymeric nanoparticles (whose size is of 350 nanometres) are suspended, going to replace the damaged photoreceptors. The experimental results show that the natural light stimulation of nanoparticles, in fact, causes the activation of retinal neurons spared from degeneration, thus mimicking the functioning of photoreceptors in healthy subjects. The data collected show also that the innovative experimental technique represents a valid alternative to the methods used to date to restore the photoreceptive capacity of retinal neurons while preserving their spatial resolution, laying a solid foundation for future clinical trials in humans. The surgical procedure for the subretinal injection of photoactive nanoparticles is minimally invasive and potentially replicable over time, unlike planar retinal prostheses.
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