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Possibly Revolutionary New Treatment Alternative to Corneal Transplantation Developed in Montreal; “LiQD Cornea” Is Liquid Hydrogel That Promotes Tissue Regeneration, Thus Treating Corneal Perforations Without Need for Transplantation

A research team co-led by May Griffith (photo), PhD, a scientist at Maisonneuve-Rosemont Hospital Research Centre, which is affiliated with Université de Montréal and is part of the CIUSSS de l'Est-de-l'Île-de-Montréal, has reported results suggesting that a novel liquid hydrogel may be used to effectively treat corneal perforations and offers an alternative to corneal transplant. The results of this multinational project were published on June 17, 2020 in Science Advances. The open-access article is titled “LiQD Cornea: Pro-Regeneration Collagen Mimetics As Patches and Alternatives to Corneal Transplantation.” "Our work has led to an effective and accessible solution called LiQD Cornea to treat corneal perforations without the need for transplantation," said Dr. Griffith, who is also a full professor in the Department of Ophthalmology at Université de Montréal. "This is good news for the many patients who are unable to undergo this operation due to a severe worldwide shortage of donor corneas," she said. "Until now, patients on the waiting list have had their perforated corneas sealed with a medical-grade super glue, but this is only a short-term solution because it is often poorly tolerated in the eye, making transplantation necessary." A synthetic, biocompatible, and adhesive liquid hydrogel, LiQD Cornea, is applied as a liquid, but quickly adheres and gels within the corneal tissue. The LiQD Cornea promotes tissue regeneration, thus treating corneal perforations without the need for transplantation. Dr. Griffith praised the work of her trainees, Christopher McTiernan and Fiona Simpson, and her collaborators from around the world who have helped create a potentially revolutionary treatment to help people with vision loss avoid going blind. "Vision is the sense that allows us to appreciate how the world around us looks," said Dr. Griffith. "Allowing patients to retain this precious asset is what motivates our actions as researchers every day of the week."

For Sylvain Lemieux, President and CEO of the CIUSSS de l'Est-de-l'Île-de-Montréal, "this innovative treatment in ophthalmology confirms the level of expertise of the Centre universitaire d'ophtalmologie de l'Université de Montréal (CUO) at the Maisonneuve-Rosemont Hospital (HMR).”

"The HMR has one of the largest teams of ophthalmologists in Quebec and one of the best-equipped ophthalmology research laboratories in North America," he said. "The hard work of our scientists and clinicians contributes daily to best practices and knowledge development.

"The multiple therapeutic possibilities resulting from our fundamental research, particularly in regenerative medicine, benefit and give hope to people suffering from ophthalmological diseases not only in Quebec, but in the rest of the world," he concluded.

The development of LiQD Cornea was supported by research grants from Euronanomedicine II--Swedish Research Council, Euronanomed III--FRQS and the Réseau de Recherche en Santé de La Vision du Québec. UdeM-HMR trainees were supported by the Caroline Durand Foundation and support from the Dept. of Ophthalmology, UdeM, FRQNT and NSERC.

MAY GRIFFITH, PHD

Holder of a PhD in Cell Biology, May Griffith is Director of the Corneal Regeneration and Biomaterials Unit at the Maisonneuve-Rosemont Hospital Research Centre. She is full professor in the Department of Ophthalmology at Université de Montréal (UdeM), and is affiliated with the UdeM Institute of Biomedical Engineering and Centre Hospitalier de l'Université de Montréal (CHUM). Dr. Griffith holds the Caroline Durand Foundation Chair in Cellular Therapy of Eye Diseases at UdeM, as well as the Canada Research Chair in Biomaterials and Stem Cells in Ophthalmology (Tier 1).

CIUSSS DE L'EST-DE L'ÎLE-DE-MONTRÉAL

The Centre Intégré Universitaire de Santé et de Services Sociaux de l'Est-de-l'Île-de-Montréal (CIUSSS-Est) includes Maisonneuve-Rosemont Hospital, Santa Cabrini Hospital, the Canadian-Polish Welfare Institute, the Institut Universitaire en Santé Mentale de Montréal, and the Saint-Léonard, Saint-Michel, Pointe-de-l'Île, and Lucille-Teasdale Health and Social Service Centres (CSSSs). Affiliated with Université de Montréal, the CIUSSS-Est combines the missions of teaching, assessment, and research of doctors and health professionals with excellence in health care delivery.

[Press release] [Science Reports article]