United States: A surgeon implants an ear implant printed from human cells

A US medical team announced Thursday that it has performed for the first time a human ear transplant created from the cells of a treated patient using a 3D printer, a procedure that could help people with a rare birth defect.

This procedure was performed as part of a clinical trial to evaluate the safety and effectiveness of such an implant for people with small ears, whose outer ear did not develop properly.

AuriNovo, the name of the implant, was developed by 3DBio Therapeutics, and the process was carried out by Arturo Bonilla, founder of an institute that specializes in treating this deformity, in San Antonio, Texas.

The patient's ear was 3D-engineered to fill in a deformity.  Agence France-Presse / Christy Bruno / Institute of Congenital Ear
The patient’s ear was 3D-engineered to fill in a deformity. Agence France-Presse / Christy Bruno / Institute of Congenital Ear

“As a physician who has treated thousands of children with small ears across the country and around the world, I am excited about this technology and what it can mean for patients and their families,” the surgeon said in a company statement.

A combination of cells and collagen

The procedure is performed by creating a 3D impression of the patient’s other, fully developed ear and then harvesting cartilage cells from his ear. It is then cultured to obtain an adequate amount, and then mixed with collagen hydrogel. This mixture is used to print the implant. The clinical trial should include a total of 11 patients, in California and Texas.

Dr. said. Bonilla hopes that implants will one day replace current treatments, which involve creating a prosthesis from removing cartilage from a rib, or a material called porous polyethylene.

He explained that the first solution is a cumbersome procedure, and the implant using porous polyethylene is less flexible than the one tested today. Microtia affects about 1,500 children in the United States each year, according to the company.

If they do not have other health problems, these children can live normally. But some may find it difficult to see how others perceive this deformity.


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