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Woman receives revolutionary 3D-printed ear made from her own cells

The transplant was part of the technology’s first clinical trial

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Woman gets a 3D-printed ear transplant, made from her own cells

In a revolutionary transplant, doctors successfully transplanted a 3D-printed ear made from human cells onto a woman with a rare ear deformity. The implant was carried out by the regenerative medicine firm, 3DBio Therapeutics, the firm announced in a press release. The transplant was part of the technology’s first clinical trial. Moreover, its success signals a significant step forward for tissue engineering.

The New York Times quoted Arturo Bonilla, the ear reconstruction surgeon who headed the team performing the surgery, as saying, “If everything goes as planned, this will revolutionize the way this is done.”

Microtia is the term for this rare ear malformation

Microtia, a disease in which one or both ears are underdeveloped or absent totally, affects about 1,500 newborns born in the US each year. 3DBio Therapeutics is now evaluating its AuriNovo ear, a tailored tissue implant that replaces the missing ear in these individuals, in a clinical trial with 11 participants.

Microtia sufferers’ ears are usually made with rib grafts or synthetic materials. Instead, a biopsy of the patient’s existing ear is taken and cartilage cells are extracted in this experimental procedure. These cells are then grown and 3D-printed to form the patient’s ear. The ear regenerates cartilage throughout the course of a patient’s life. And because it is generated from their own cells, it is less likely to be rejected, according to the business, reports The New York Times.

So far, transplant technology has made significant advances this year. In January, doctors performed a heart transplant on a patient using a pig heart, but the patient died a few months later. Other research organisations are experimenting with 3D-printed lungs and blood arteries.

3DBio Therapeutics execs told The New York Times that their method might someday be used to print additional body parts like noses and rotator cuffs. They said complicated organs like livers and kidneys may also be printed someday as well.

Ears are less complicated than organs, and unlike livers, they aren’t required for survival. So it’ll be a long path to that conceivable future. “But it’s more realistic if you’ve got the ear,” Adam Feinberg, a Carnegie Mellon University professor of biomedical engineering and materials science and engineering, told The New York Times.

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