Watch: Scientists 3D print an ear from human cells and transplant it into a patient in a medical breakthrough
A US company has fitted a patient with a 3D-printed ear implant made from living cells in what it described as a medical breakthrough.
The patient is a woman born with a birth defect that left her with a small misshapen right ear.
The company, 3DBio Therapeutics, took a sample of cartilage cells from his remaining ear and cultured them in a New York lab.
The living cells were then mixed with the company’s collagen-based bio-ink, “like chocolate chips mixed with cookie dough ice cream,” Nathaniel Bachrach, chief scientific officer of 3DBio, said. told the New York Times.
The collagen was inserted into a special 3D bio-printer, which injected the material layer by layer to create an oblong shape that was a mirrored replica of the patient’s left ear.
A surgeon implanted the 3D-printed ear under the patient’s skin, and after the skin tightened around it, the shape of an ear emerged.
“We believe this is the first time a company has printed a fully living construct and implanted it into a patient to replace a body part the patient was born without or lost due to trauma or a disease,” said 3DBio CEO and co-founder Daniel Cohen.
The company hopes the technology can eventually be used to make other replacement body parts, including the nose and intervertebral discs.
For now, a clinical trial is underway in 10 other patients with microtia, a rare congenital ear deformity where one or both outer ears are missing or underdeveloped.
The new technology requires less invasive surgery than is currently needed for reconstruction, as surgeons normally remove cartilage from the patient’s ribs and then carve that cartilage into the shape of an ear.
Dr. Arturo Bonilla, a pediatric ear reconstructive surgeon specializing in microtia who performed the woman’s implant surgery, called 3DBio’s technology exciting.
“I am deeply inspired by what could potentially result,” he said. “In fact, I’ve been waiting for this my whole career.”
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