Groundbreaking: Woman Receives 3D-Printed Ear Made From Her Own Cells


3d-printed earDoctors have for the first time ever successfully transplanted a 3D-printed ear made from human cells onto a woman.

3DBio Therapeutics, the regenerative medicine company behind the implant, announced the development in a press release on Thursday, June 2

The transplant was made on a 20-year-old woman who was born with a rare ear deformity.It was part of the first clinical trial of the technology; and its success marks a major step forward for tissue engineering.

The ear before the transplant (left) and the results 30 days after the procedure (right). Pic: Microtia-Congenital Ear Institute and 3DBio Therapeutics.

If everything goes as planned, this will revolutionize the way this is done,” Arturo Bonilla, the ear reconstruction surgeon said.

Around 1,500 babies born in the United States each year have microtia; a condition where one or both ears are underdeveloped or missing entirely.

To tackle this, 3DBio Therapeutics has an ongoing clinical trial with 11 participants; testing its AuriNovo ear, a personalized tissue implant to replace the missing ear in these patients.

3D-Printed Ear

Typically, microtia patients have ears constructed from rib grafts or synthetic materials. Instead, this experimental process involves taking a biopsy from the patient’s existing ear; then pulling out cartilage cells.

Those cells are then grown and 3D printed into the shape of the patient’s ear. The ear keeps regenerating cartilage over patients’ lifetimes; and because it is made from their own cells, it’s less likely to be rejected, the company told The New York Times.

Read also: Slack Brings New Audio Pronunciations Feature To User Profiles

It’s been a major year so far for advancements in transplant technology. In January, doctors gave a patient a heart transplant with a pig heart. Although the patient died a few months later.

Other research groups are working on 3D-printed lungs and 3D-printed blood vessels. Executives from 3DBio Therapeutics told The New York Times they thought their technology could potentially print other body parts especially parts like noses and rotator cuffs. And eventually, complex organs like livers and kidneys.

Ears are simpler than organs and, unlike livers, aren’t necessary to keep people alive; so it’ll be a long road toward that potential future.

However, Adam Feinberg, a professor of biomedical engineering and materials science and engineering at Carnegie Mellon University, told New York Times; “but it’s more realistic if you’ve got the ear.”

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