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New epiretinal implant with integrated sensor chips for optical capturing shows a good biocompatibility profile in vitro and in vivo

: Schaffrath, Kim; Lohmann, Tibor K.; Seifert, Jan; Ingensiep, Claudia; Raffelberg, Pascal; Waschkowski, Florian; Viga, Reinhard; Kokozinski, Rainer; Mokwa, Wilfried; Johnen, Sandra; Walter, Peter

Volltext ()

BioMedical Engineering OnLine 20 (2021), Art. 102, 20 S.
ISSN: 1475-925X
Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft DFG
Entwicklung einer implantierbaren epiretinalen Sehprothese mit integrierter Bildaufnahme
Zeitschriftenaufsatz, Elektronische Publikation
Fraunhofer IMS ()
OPTO-EPIRET; retinal prosthesis; retinal stimulation; epiretinal implant; biocompatibility; vitreoretinal surgery

BACKGROUND: Retinal degenerative diseases, e.g., retinitis pigmentosa, cause a severe decline of the visual function up to blindness. Treatment still remains difficult; however, implantation of retinal prostheses can help restoring vision. In this study, the biocompatibility and surgical feasibility of a newly developed epiretinal stimulator (OPTO-EPIRET) was investigated. The previously developed implant was extended by an integrated circuit-based optical capturing, which will enable the immediate conversion of the visual field into stimulation patterns to stimulate retinal ganglion cells.
RESULTS: The biocompatibility of the OPTO-EPIRET was investigated in vitro using the two different cell lines L-929 and R28. Direct and indirect contact were analyzed in terms of cell proliferation, cell viability, and gene expression. The surgical feasibility was initially tested by implanting the OPTO-EPIRET in cadaveric rabbit eyes. Afterwards, inactive devices were implanted in six rabbits for feasibility and biocompatibility testings in vivo. In follow-up controls (1-12weeks post-surgery), the eyes were examined using fundoscopy and optical coherence tomography. After finalization, histological examination was performed to analyze the retinal structure. Regarding the in vitro biocompatibility, no significant influence on cell viability was detected (L929: <1.3% dead cells; R-28: <0.8% dead cells). The surgery, which comprised phacoemulsification, vitrectomy, and implantation of the OPTO-EPIRET through a 9-10mm corneal incision, was successfully established. The implant was fixated with a retinal tack. Vitreal hemorrhage or retinal tearing occurred as main adverse effects. Transitional corneal edema caused difficulties in post-surgical imaging.
CONCLUSIONS: The OPTO-EPIRET stimulator showed a good biocompatibility profile in vitro. Furthermore, the implantation surgery was shown to be feasible. However, further design optimization steps are necessary to avoid intra- and postoperative complications. Overall, the OPTO-EPIRET will allow for a wide visual field and good visual acuity due to a high density of electrodes in the central retina.