Scientists at the Cornell University have found a method that enables them to grow a new ear within days using a combination of 3D printing and living-cell gels. This new technique could help hundreds of children born with the … syndrome (missing an ear) to give them an ear that looks and feels biologically normal.
“This is such a win-win for both medicine and basic science, demonstrating what we can achieve when we work together,” said co-lead author Lawrence Bonassar, associate professor of biomedical engineering.
To make the ears, Bonassar and colleagues started with a digitized 3-D image of a human subject’s ear and converted the image into a digitized “solid” ear using a 3-D printer to assemble a mold. They injected the mold with collagen derived from rat tails, and then added 250 million cartilage cells from the ears of cows. This Cornell-developed, high-density gel is similar to the consistency of Jell-O when the mold is removed. The collagen served as a scaffold upon which cartilage could grow.
Today, the only reliable treating method is to take a piece of rib bone and carve and mold it into an ear shape before covering it with skin grafts. These scientists hope that this new technology will be less invasive for the patient and give a more natural look.
Source: Cornell University