Children Receive New Ear Grown from Own Cells
Scientists have successfully regenerated a ear grown in a lab and grafted it onto a patient, according to a new study published on February 1, 2018.
A team of scientists used a patient’s own ear cartilage cells to form a new one. Five children suffering from a condition known as microtia, in which the external ear is underdeveloped, have undergone the experimental surgery.
The new technique involves a procedure, in which a scan of an unaffected ear is taken, reversing the dimensions and 3D-printing a biodegradable mould punctuated with tiny holes. Cartilage cells are taken from the recipient’s other ear that is unaffected. This is then used to fill the holes while the new ear is undergoing changes in the lab.
The cartilage cells begin to grow, to take the shape of the mould, and the mould itself begins to break down, within three months. The ear is then grafted onto the recipient.
“It’s a very exciting approach. They’ve shown that it is possible to get close to restoring the ear structure.” Said Tessa Hadlock, a reconstructive plastic surgeon at the Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary in Boston.
The recipients will now be monitored for at least five years to evaluate the success of the procedure.
This surgery was first inspired by the earmouse, which is a lab mouse that has a human ear growing on its back, for testing. The ear had been grafted onto the mouse and not genetically engineered. This inspired the first surgery on humans.
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