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Cross-Linking beyond keratoconus

Why did the Serbian military offer to fly Prof. Farhad Hafezi in a helicopter to a ski resort in early September? After all, the slopes were green with grass, not white with snow.

Sitting atop the Kopaonik National Park, The Grand Hotel in Kopaonik, Serbia, which is the venue of the 19 th Annual Congress of Serbian Ophthalmologists. Prof Hafezi was invited to attend the meeting to present “Crosslinking beyond keratoconus” to the conference attendees.

Boris Knyazer’s group at the Ben-Gurion University of the Negev and Hafezi’s research group at ELZA and the University of Zurich’s Center for Applied Biotechnology and Molecular Medicine at the University of Zurich (photoactivated chromophore for infectious keratitis cross-linking).

Corneal cross-linking involves riboflavin being soaked into the cornea, ultraviolet light being shone on it, and as we’re now aware, oxygen diffusing into the cornea to allow a photochemical reaction to occur that generates oxidative free radicals that cross-link collagen in the cornea (strengthening it) but also kill pathogens too. As our understanding of the corneal cross-linking reaction has improved, we are now able to cross-link with higher intensity UV light for shorter periods of time (within limits – thanks to oxygen diffusion) in a process called accelerated CXL. Can an accelerated approach work for PACK-CXL?

Hafezi presented preliminary data from Knocker and his work, in which they compared the use of standard (SOC) antibiotic medication with accelerated PACK-CXL + SOC antibiotics in around 70 patients with corneal infections. The preliminary results indicate that the time to healing was far faster in the combined treatment group than the SOC group – by five days. This potentially heralds good news: a faster recovery and fewer doctor visits for the patient, and lower costs for the healthcare systems too.



The ELZA Institute

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