Skip to Content
Biotechnology

A fake eye that sheds fake tears could replace animal testing

Jeongyun Seo and Dongeun Huh at the University of Pennsylvania | YouTubeJeongyun Seo and Dongeun Huh at the University of Pennsylvania | YouTube

Is that supposed to be an eye? Yes, and the researchers who made this biomechanical version (which contains human cells) say it might eventually replace animals for testing.

Engineering feat: Creating an artificial eye isn’t easy; it turns out to be a pretty complex organ. This one has a sheet of real human corneal cells as well as a clear membrane called the conjunctiva.

It blinks? It does. The researchers created an ersatz eyelid that opens and closes, to mimic wear and tear. The eyelid is made of soft hydrogels and is controlled by a tiny electromechanical motor.

Not to worry, though—the gadget can’t see or perceive anything. It merely mimics the surface of the eye, say the bioengineers at the University of Pennsylvania who made it.

Fake tears: The researchers prefer to call them “contrived tears.” Whatever the name, they needed to add lubrication to make their version true to life. They say they used their gadget to test dry-eye drugs. 

You can read more in the report about the device by Dongeun Huh and colleagues in Nature Medicine.

Deep Dive

Biotechnology

These scientists used CRISPR to put an alligator gene into catfish

The resulting fish appear to be more resistant to disease and could improve commercial production—should they ever be approved.

Next up for CRISPR: Gene editing for the masses?

Last year, Verve Therapeutics started the first human trial of a CRISPR treatment that could benefit most people—a signal that gene editing may be ready to go mainstream.

CRISPR for high cholesterol: 10 Breakthrough Technologies 2023

New forms of the gene-editing tool could enable treatments for common diseases.

An ALS patient set a record for communicating via a brain implant: 62 words per minute

Brain interfaces could let paralyzed people speak at almost normal speeds.

Stay connected

Illustration by Rose Wong

Get the latest updates from
MIT Technology Review

Discover special offers, top stories, upcoming events, and more.

Thank you for submitting your email!

Explore more newsletters

It looks like something went wrong.

We’re having trouble saving your preferences. Try refreshing this page and updating them one more time. If you continue to get this message, reach out to us at customer-service@technologyreview.com with a list of newsletters you’d like to receive.