A surgical team has performed the first reconstruction of the human ear using a 3D-printed ear implant – molded from the patient’s own cells.
The surgery is part of the first trial testing the technology on patients with microtia, a rare birth defect in which the outer ear may be underdeveloped or missing.
Queens-based regenerative medicine company 3DBio Therapeutics developed the implant, called AuriNovo.
The testwhich includes 11 patients, is ongoing and designed to test ear safety and patient satisfaction with them.
“As a physician who has treated thousands of children with microtia across the country and around the world, I am inspired by what this technology can mean for microtia patients and their families,” Arturo Bonilla, Surgeon pediatrics at the Microtia-Congenital Ear Institute in San Antonio who led the surgical team, said in the company press release.
A surgical team has performed the first reconstruction of the human ear using a 3D printed ear implant – made with the patient’s own cells.
3D printed body parts: 3D printing has already been used to create other types of implants and prostheses.
But by using “bio-inks” made from biological material, 3D printing can create structures made of living tissue. Researchers have printed nasal cartilage, bone, and mini-organs for drug development, but the AuriNovo graft represents a milestone for bioprinted therapeutics as a clinical area.
“It’s definitely a big deal,” said Adam Feinberg, a professor of biomedical engineering at Carnegie Mellon University, who was unaffiliated with the study. New York Times.
“It shows that this technology is no longer an ‘if’, but a ‘when’,” said Feinberg, also co-founder of 3D-printing regenerative medicine company FluidForm.
To protect its trade secrets, 3DBio has not revealed many details about their process, but the company says data from their trial will be published in a medical journal when it is complete.
Surgery : The main stages of the process were reported in the NYT.
First, Bonilla, the surgeon, took a half-gram sample of cartilage from the remains of the patient’s microtia ear, a 20-year-old Mexican woman identified as Alexa.
He sent the sample and a 3D scan of Alexa’s other healthy ear to 3DBio in Queens, where the cells responsible for cartilage formation were sieved and cultured. The cultured cells were mixed into a cartilage-based bioink, which was then used to print an exact mirrored replica of his intact ear in less than 10 minutes.
Bonilla then implanted the replica ear subcutaneously.
The future: Current treatment for microtia often involves removing enough cartilage from the patient’s ribs to form a new ear implant, but the new process is much less invasive.
“I always thought everyone in microtia was waiting for a technology where we wouldn’t have to go into the chest and patients would recover overnight,” Bonilla told the NYT.
3DBio founders Lawrence Bonassar and Dan Cohen see the operation as the end result of nearly two decades of groundbreaking academic work – finally bridging the “valley of death” for new processing ideas between the lab and the clinical.
“3DBio has managed to pick up where academia left off and has truly industrialized the technology,” Cohen told the Cornell Chronicle.
When a technical barrier is overcome, progress can be quickly accelerated, Cohen said, citing aviation and computing as examples.
“Now that we believe we have overcome these fundamental hurdles, this technology platform could potentially impact the lives of patients and be the start of a new treatment paradigm.”
As Feinberg pointed out to the NYT, 3D-printed cartilage for an outer structure is still a far cry from complex solid organs like the liver, heart, and lungs. But, he noted, jumping to other body parts is much more doable when you already have the ear.
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