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The neurodegenerative disease glaucoma is one of the leading causes of blindness and accounts for over ten million visits to physicians for treatment. Unfortunately, there is yet to be a concrete accepted approach to alleviating the effects of glaucoma. This dissertation examines recent studies and reports on the specifics of viral vectors, non-viral vectors, piezoelectric inkjet printing, heat inkjet printing, and glaucoma. A few of the studies involve the progression of an experiment while others combine and discuss the results of multiple experiments. Using these articles I compared the effectiveness of gene therapy to the use of inkjet printing to create retinal cells. By replacing, adding, or deleting a specific sequence in the human body, the gene expression of the eye can be altered. There are two different types of injections for gene therapy, viral vectors and non-viral vectors. Both methods typically target the trabecular meshwork and neuroretina to regulate the aqueous humor outflow and lower the intraocular pressure. In the case of glaucoma, the treatment solely provides neuroprotection instead of curing the disease, thus patients must undergo repeated injections in order to keep the disease from deteriorating. Inkjet printing of retinal cells have shown to produce three dimensional tissue grafts that may replace defective tissues. The printed cells have been tested for survivability and regeneration properties, since it has been suggested that the printing process can cause defects. Both heat inkjet printing and piezoelectric printing have been used to create neural cells. By evaluating the advantages and disadvantages of gene therapy as well as printing, I can evaluate whether or not inkjet printing can overtake gene therapy to become a conventional treatment for glaucoma in the near future. There have not been many clinical trials done on either of these methods for glaucoma, thus it is difficult to obtain a certain answer to the question at hand. At this point advancements in the area of three-dimensional printing neural sheets may provide a more promising cure. However, more research must be done on how each of these treatments affect glaucoma in humans.

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Faye Prichard


Virginia Commonwealth University. Undergraduate Research Opportunities Program

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Inkjet Printing Retinal cells vs. Gene Therapy in the treatment of Glaucoma