Could a Film Implant Help Revive the Retina?
A new thin photoelectric film can stimulate and rejuvenate degenerated retinal tissues. It’s called OUReP—a photoelectric dye infused in a thin film that generates current when exposed to light. It was made by researchers at Okayama University.
The film is made by sandwiching a thin sheet of the polymer polyethylene between two aluminum plates. The polymer is then heated and pressure is applied, turning it into a thin polyethylene film. After undergoing a chemical reaction, the film is coupled with a photoelectric dye.
To test the film’s ability to stimulate nervous tissue, researchers used retinal tissues of rats with retinal dystrophy. Retinal tissues from healthy rats were used as controls. The rats were exposed to light and electrical signals were found using a multielectrode array detector. They also tested dystrophic retinal tissue, and no signals were found when exposed to light. OUReP was then placed atop the dystrophic tissues, causing the light to induce electric signals; control film without OUReP induced no electric signals.
For more precise measurements of the electric signals, a nylon mesh held the dystrophic tissues and multielectrode array detector in closer contact. Background electric impulses of weak amplitude were found in the dystrophic tissues. For those with OUReP, light induced action potential spikes, making it instrumental in increasing electrical impulses in the retina.
Results showed that OUReP may be able to replace lost photosensitivity of degraded retinal cells. The goal is for it to at least delay blindness in some patients. Further studies are needed.
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