Innovative technologies in corneal regeneration is the main topic of the Ophthalmology Summer School, which is being held at the training and clinical facilities of Medical University - Varna within the European Programme COST Action BM 1302 Joining Forces in Corneal Regeneration Research.
The main event organizer is Prof. Dr. Hristina Grupcheva, D.Sc. – Vice-Rector for Innovations and Translational Medicine at MU-Varna and a world-renowned specialist in the field of Ophthalmology, who outlined the content and objectives of the course and answered questions related to the latest trends in the field of Ophthalmology.
A considerable part of the summer school participants come from European centres that deal with bio-regeneration, and about 30 percent of them are trainees from Bulgaria - specialists in corneal regeneration from Varna, Sofia, Plovdiv, Bourgas and Smolyan.
The selection of Medical University - Varna as a venue of the third school of COST Action BM 1302 is not accidental. Many aspects have been taken into consideration such as the modern state-of-the-art university facilities allowing through video conference the course participants to get acquainted with the achievements of laboratories for production of biomaterials and tissue engineering in the UK, as well as the professional organization of the event, including theoretical and practical training and a diverse cultural and social programme.
Another important fact is that Bulgaria is an endemic region characterized with corneal damages, many of which are hereditary. Furthermore, the traditions in corneal transplantation in Varna were established as early as the 1970s by Prof. Nikola Konstantinov, founder of the Department of Eye Diseases at Varna Medical University.
Corneal dystrophy is a prevalent disease in Bulgaria, which affects every generation. The classic way of treatment is keratoplasty - replacement of damaged cornea with another one from a tissue bank, donated by a donor. We are currently working on a method in which the patient's own cells will be used, thus preventing the major risk at the moment, and that is transplant rejection.
During the summer school, the 15 participants will be able to acquire scientific and practical knowledge in the field of Regenerative Medicine through live surgery and in the laboratory of the Centre for Translational Medicine at Medical University - Varna and St. Marina University Hospital. There specialists have already been working on epithelial regeneration methods, and consequently the work on regeneration of all cell layers is to be initiated.