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pig skin eye implants, pig implants restored vision, healing blindness
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This little piggie went to the eye doctor.

Pigskin has already proven to be extremely useful for treating wounds, due to being genetically similar human skin. But can it cure blindness? The science seems to lead toward yes.

pig skin eye implant Giphy

A new study, published in Nature Biotechnology, revealed that 14 out of 14 blind patients significantly restored their eyesight—with a few even achieving perfect 20/20 vision—after receiving bioengineered implants made of collagen, a protein found in human skin, and, you guessed it … pigskin.

Each of the patients, all in Iran and India, suffered from a progressive condition called keratoconus, where the cornea (the transparent layer that covers the pupil and iris) thins and gradually bulges outward into a cone shape.

Corneal damage is one of the leading causes of blindness globally, and though it is currently treatable through transplants, there is a low amount of human donor corneas available, especially to those with low to middle income.

Being a food byproduct, pigskin is not only accessible, but a much more cost-effective transplant material. That’s what makes this study and its findings so potentially groundbreaking.


How scientists created the implants is cool too. Pig collagen was first liquified. This in itself is no easy task, as the material is “prone to degradation.” But after using the same techniques that keep collagen-based skin grafts stable, researchers created a transparent, implantable hydrogel that can mimic a human cornea. On first glance, it could be mistaken for a contact lens.

pig skin eye plant

An image of the hydrogel before insertion.

https://www.nature.com/articles/s41587-022-01408-w/figures/1

After surgeons make a small incision into the patient’s cornea, the hydrogel is inserted, which thickens the cornea and allows doctors to improve its curvature. The results, though varied, were dramatically positive. Meaning, at worst, some still had to use corrective lenses. And at best, some gained perfect vision.


Overall, this procedure could be cheaper, quicker and less invasive than traditional cornea implants. And perhaps safer, considering there were no adverse reactions experienced after two years following treatment. Neil Lagali, a professor of experimental ophthalmology at Linköping University in Sweden who co-authored the study, told NBC News, "There’s always a risk for rejection of the human donor tissue because it contains foreign cells. Our implant does not contain any cells ... so there’s a minimal risk of rejection."

pig eye implant, pig skin restores visio

Will wonders never cease?

Photo by Josh Calabrese on Unsplash

There have been several technological advances allowing those with visual impairments to interact with their environment in new ways: apps that allow users to listen to, rather than view, a map of the world around them, smart glasses for both those who are blind and colorblind, even new legislation to make electric cars safer by mandating artificial engine sounds. Even Braille, arguably the oldest form of vision tech, has been given a modern spin with easy-to-use e-readers and electronic toys that teach Braille to preschoolers.

This innovation is yet another huge step for inclusion. According to CBS, Mehrdad Rafat, the researcher and entrepreneur behind the design and development of the implants, said in a press release, "We've made significant efforts to ensure that our invention will be widely available and affordable by all and not just by the wealthy. That's why this technology can be used in all parts of the world."

Science never ceases to amaze or move us forward.

All images provided by Bombas

We can all be part of the giving movement

True

We all know that small acts of kindness can turn into something big, but does that apply to something as small as a pair of socks?

Yes, it turns out. More than you might think.

A fresh pair of socks is a simple comfort easily taken for granted for most, but for individuals experiencing homelessness—they are a rare commodity. Currently, more than 500,000 people in the U.S. are experiencing homelessness on any given night. Being unstably housed—whether that’s couch surfing, living on the streets, or somewhere in between—often means rarely taking your shoes off, walking for most if not all of the day, and having little access to laundry facilities. And since shelters are not able to provide pre-worn socks due to hygienic reasons, that very basic need is still not met, even if some help is provided. That’s why socks are the #1 most requested clothing item in shelters.

homelessness, bombasSocks are a simple comfort not everyone has access to

When the founders of Bombas, Dave Heath and Randy Goldberg, discovered this problem, they decided to be part of the solution. Using a One Purchased = One Donated business model, Bombas helps provide not only durable, high-quality socks, but also t-shirts and underwear (the top three most requested clothing items in shelters) to those in need nationwide. These meticulously designed donation products include added features intended to offer comfort, quality, and dignity to those experiencing homelessness.

Over the years, Bombas' mission has grown into an enormous movement, with more than 75 million items donated to date and a focus on providing support and visibility to the organizations and people that empower these donations. These are the incredible individuals who are doing the hard work to support those experiencing —or at risk of—homelessness in their communities every day.

Folks like Shirley Raines, creator of Beauty 2 The Streetz. Every Saturday, Raines and her team help those experiencing homelessness on Skid Row in Los Angeles “feel human” with free makeovers, haircuts, food, gift bags and (thanks to Bombas) fresh socks. 500 pairs, every week.

beauty 2 the streetz, skid row laRaines is out there helping people feel their beautiful best

Or Director of Step Forward David Pinson in Cincinnati, Ohio, who offers Bombas donations to those trying to recover from addiction. Launched in 2009, the Step Forward program encourages participation in community walking/running events in order to build confidence and discipline—two major keys to successful rehabilitation. For each marathon, runners are outfitted with special shirts, shoes—and yes, socks—to help make their goals more achievable.

step forward, helping homelessness, homeless non profitsRunning helps instill a sense of confidence and discipline—two key components of successful recovery

Help even reaches the Front Street Clinic of Juneau, Alaska, where Casey Ploof, APRN, and David Norris, RN give out free healthcare to those experiencing homelessness. Because it rains nearly 200 days a year there, it can be very common for people to get trench foot—a very serious condition that, when left untreated, can require amputation. Casey and Dave can help treat trench foot, but without fresh, clean socks, the condition returns. Luckily, their supply is abundant thanks to Bombas. As Casey shared, “people will walk across town and then walk from the valley just to come here to get more socks.”

step forward clinic, step forward alaska, homelessness alaskaWelcome to wild, beautiful and wet Alaska!

The Bombas Impact Report provides details on Bombas’s mission and is full of similar inspiring stories that show how the biggest acts of kindness can come from even the smallest packages. Since its inception in 2013, the company has built a network of over 3,500 Giving Partners in all 50 states, including shelters, nonprofits and community organizations dedicated to supporting our neighbors who are experiencing- or at risk- of homelessness.

Their success has proven that, yes, a simple pair of socks can be a helping hand, an important conversation starter and a link to humanity.

You can also be a part of the solution. Learn more and find the complete Bombas Impact Report by clicking here.

via UNSW

This article originally appeared on 07.10.21


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