Blind World


New Artificial Cornea Offers Promise for Transplant Patients Who Reject Human Tissue.





August 13, 2003.

Press Release.
Source: Minnesota Eye Consultants.




MINNEAPOLIS, MN.


Corneal transplantation, second only to blood transfusions as the oldest and most successful human transplant procedure, enters a new era today with the introduction of the AlphaCor artificial cornea. AlphaCor, a one-piece, soft, flexible hydrogel polymer substance, evolved from extensive laboratory and clinical research internationally and represents a revolutionary keratoprosthess -- a true artificial cornea.


Dr. David R. Hardten, founding partner and director of research at Minnesota Eye Consultants, performed a three-hour Stage I surgery late yesterday to surgically implant the AlphaCor in a patient who had previously rejected conventional donor grafts. The Stage II procedure, scheduled in three months, will involve removal of a small section of the patient's cornea to make vision possible.


"AlphaCor has the potential to help 5,000 Americans who are otherwise hopelessly blind achieve some useful vision each year," said Dr. Richard L. Lindstrom, founder and managing partner of Minnesota Eye Consultants and principal investigator for the artificial cornea. "It's a much-needed alternative for patients at high risk of rejection following conventional corneal transplant surgery," he added. "It also minimizes or eliminates the need for post-transplant (immunosuppressant) drugs."


"Fourteen years of research and four years of extensive clinical trials internationally have confirmed that the AlphaCor artificial cornea has the ability to improve sight substantially in patients considered at high risk for corneal graft failure," said Dr. Celia Hicks, medical director at Argus Biomedical, the Perth-Australia-based developer of the AlphaCor. "Many patients in the clinical trials experienced visual improvement that enabled them to be re-classified from legally blind to functionally sighted, with some benefiting from substantial improvements.


"Minnesota Eye Consultants is internationally recognized for excellence in research, clinical patient care and adoption of new technologies," she said. "Drs. Lindstrom and Hardten have reputations as leaders in their field, which make their contributions to the AlphaCor program especially valuable."


Additional AlphaCor procedures are planned this month at UCLA, New York Eye & Ear and other research sites internationally, according to Dr. Hicks.


Minnesota Eye Consultants, the ophthalmology practice of Drs. Richard L. Lindstrom, Thomas W. Samuelson, David R. Hardten, Elizabeth A. Davis, William J. Lipham and Patrick J. Riedel, is Minnesota's largest and most recognized surgical center for corneal transplants. For more information, call 1-800-EYE-TO-EYE or visit the website at www.mneye.com .






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