Scientists Create New Ear Using 3D Printing And Living Cell Injections
Printing out body parts? Cornell University researchers showed it's possible by creating a replacement ear using a 3-D printer and injections of living cells. The work reported Wednesday is a first step toward one day growing customized new ears for children born with malformed ones, or people who lose one to accident or disease.
It's part of the hot field of tissue regeneration, trying to regrow all kinds of body parts. Scientists hope using 3-D printing technology might offer a speedier method with more lifelike results. If it pans out, "this enables us to rapidly customize implants for whoever needs them," said Cornell biomedical engineer Lawrence Bonassar, who co-authored the research published online in the journal PLoS One.
This first-step work crafted a human-shaped ear that grew with cartilage from a cow, easier to obtain than human cartilage, especially the uniquely flexible kind that makes up ears. Study co-author Dr. Jason Spector of Weill Cornell Medical Center is working on the next step – how to cultivate enough of a child's remaining ear cartilage in the lab to grow an entirely new ear that could be implanted in the right spot.