Precise Bio partners with Carl Zeiss for corneal transplants

Carl Zeiss Meditec has partnered with regenerative medicine company Precise Bio to develop and commercialize its transplantable corneal tissue 4D printing technology. The products are intended for patients requiring a corneal transplant to restore vision.

Under the terms of the agreement, Jena, Germany-based Carl Zeiss Meditec will invest in Precise Bio and fund the further development of Precise Bio’s two corneal transplant products. Carl Zeiss Meditec will retain worldwide marketing rights to these products under the agreement.

Financial terms were not disclosed.

Globally, only one cornea is available for 70 patients needing a transplant, according to Precise Bio. The technology developed by the company would offer a complete solution for corneal transplantation and alleviate the shortage of donated corneas.

Carl Zeiss Meditec, a leading medical technology company specializing in the diagnosis and treatment of eye disease, said the investment will complement its portfolio of refractive cataract and corneal workflow solutions. “The technology has the potential to advance treatment options for corneal diseases, as well as elective procedures, further optimizing patient care,” said Euan S. Thomson, PhD, president of ‘Ophthalmic Devices and Head of the Digital Business Unit at Carl Zeiss Meditec.

Precise Bio combines engineering, biomaterials, cell technology, bioengineering and 3D printing in a 4D bio-fabrication platform for transplantable organs and tissues. The proprietary technology enables tissue fabrication by printing cells in single-cell resolution with spatial precision, producing complex constructs with structural integrity and long-term cell viability, according to the company. Biofabrication technology could be reliably scaled up for clinical use and can produce large quantities in a reproducible, quality-controlled, and cost-effective process.

Image courtesy of Precise Bio
Precise Bio has developed a bio-manufacturing platform for the scalable production of corneal grafts.

Precise Bio’s ophthalmology pipeline consists of three products – both corneal transplants for diseases requiring endothelial keratoplasty and lenticule replacement, which are the subject of the collaboration with Carl Zeiss Meditec, and a retinal implant for degeneration age-related macular. All products performed well in animal models, according to Precise Bio. The ophthalmology products cater to global markets exceeding $10 billion annually, the company said.

Precise Bio was founded in 2016 by Professor Anthony Atala, MD, director of the Wake Forest Institute of Regenerative Medicine (WFIRM), Professor Shay Soker, PhD, also of WFIRM, and Aryeh Batt, who developed the printing technology company laser. The company has facilities in Winston Salem, North Carolina, and Modi’in, Israel.

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