A sintered graphene/titania material as a synthetic keratoprosthesis skirt for end-stage corneal disorders.


School of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering, Nanyang Technological University, Singapore. Electronic address: [Email]


An artificial cornea or keratoprosthesis requires high mechanical strength, good biocompatibility, and sufficient wear and corrosion resistance to withstand the hostile environment. We report a reduced graphene oxide-reinforced titania-based composite for this application. Graphene oxide nanoparticles (GO) and liquid crystalline graphene oxide (LCGO) were the graphene precursors and mixed with titanium dioxide (TiO2) powder. The composites reinforced with reduced GO or LCGO were produced through spark plasma sintering (SPS). The mechanical properties (Young's modulus and hardness), wear behaviour and corrosion resistance were studied using nanoindentation, anoidic polarization, long-term corrosion assay in artificial tear fluid and tribology assay in corroboration with atomic force microscopy and scanning electron microscopy. Biocompatibility was assessed by human corneal stromal cell attachment, survival and proliferation, and DNA damages. Sintered composites were implanted into rabbit corneas to assess for in vivo stability and host tissue responses. We showed that reduced graphene/TiO2 hybrids were safe and biocompatible. In particular, the 1% reduced LCGO/TiO2 (1rLCGO/TiO2) composite was mechanically strong, chemically stable, and showed better wear and corrosion resistance than pure titania and other combinations of graphene-reinforced titania. Hence the 1rLCGO/ TiO2 bioceramics can be a potential skirt biomaterial for keratoprosthesis to treat end-stage corneal blindness. STATEMENT OF SIGNIFICANCE: The osteo-odonto-keratoprosthesis (OOKP) is an artificial cornea procedure used to restore vision in end-stage corneal diseases, however it is contraindicated in young subjects, patients with advanced imflammatory diseases and posterior segment complications. Hence, there is a need of an improved keratoprosthesisskirt material with high mechanical and chemical stability, wear resistance and tissue integration ability. Our study characterized a reduced graphene oxide-reinforced titania-based biomaterial, which demonstrated strong mechanical strength, wear and corrosion resistance, and was safe and biocompatible to human corneal stromal cells. In vivo implantation to rabbit corneas did not cause any immune and inflammation outcomes. In conclusion, this invention is a potential keratoprosthesis skirt biomaterial to withstand the hostile environment in treating end-stage corneal blindness.


Biocompatibility,Corneal implantation,Reduced graphene oxide,Spark plasma sintering,Titanium dioxide,Wear and corrosion resistance,