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Using 3-D Printing and Injectable Molds, Bioengineered Ears Look and Act Like the Real Thing

Using 3-D Printing and Injectable Molds, Bioengineered Ears Look and Act Like the Real Thing.

Released: 2/19/2013 5:00 PM EST 
Embargo expired: 2/20/2013 5:00 PM EST
Source Newsroom: Cornell University

Newswise — Cornell bioengineers and physicians have created an artificial ear – using 3-D printing and injectable molds – that looks and acts like a natural ear, giving new hope to thousands of children born with a congenital deformity called microtia.

In a study published online Feb. 20 in PLOS One, Cornell biomedical engineers and Weill Cornell Medical College physicians described how 3-D printing and injectable gels made of living cells can fashion ears that are practically identical to a human ear. Over a three-month period, these flexible ears grew cartilage to replace the collagen that was used to mold them.

“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.

The novel ear may be the solution reconstructive surgeons have long wished for to help children born with ear deformity, said co-lead author Dr. Jason Spector, director of the Laboratory for Bioregenerative Medicine and Surgery and associate professor of plastic surgery at Weill Cornell in New York City.

“A bioengineered ear replacement like this would also help individuals who have lost part or all of their external ear in an accident or from cancer,” Spector said.
Replacement ears are usually constructed with materials that have a Styrofoam-like consistency, or sometimes, surgeons build ears from a patient’s harvested rib. This option is challenging and painful for children, and the ears rarely look completely natural or perform well, Spector said.

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.

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.

The process is also fast, Bonassar added: “It takes half a day to design the mold, a day or so to print it, 30 minutes to inject the gel, and we can remove the ear 15 minutes later. We trim the ear and then let it culture for several days in nourishing cell culture media before it is implanted.” Read the rest at Using 3-D Printing and Injectable Molds, Bioengineered Ears Look and Act Like the Real Thing.

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6 responses

  1. muse1876

    Science is amazing and scary at the same time. God bless

    February 21, 2013 at 7:24 pm

    • It is indeed!

      February 21, 2013 at 7:36 pm

  2. Wow weeee! I’m on the fence with this~ xo

    February 21, 2013 at 10:32 pm

    • Me too! I can see good and bad coming from it, let’s just pray that is goes to the glory of God and not man!

      February 21, 2013 at 10:45 pm

  3. Hmmm http://partneringwitheagles.wordpress.com/2013/02/21/townhall-cartoons-and-an-eerie-possibility/
    As to the scary side: the second political cartoon in this post caused me to make the comment below. This new leap in medical science does have a “dark side” application…
    By Jerry Holbert – February 21, 2013

    As regards Jerry’s cartoon: Not being one to underestimate the quantum leaps in technology that has been made in the last ten yrs; I am going to do a bit of searching on exactly what info is in the public domain concerning nano technology.

    Consider 1) Anything out there is only what the gov’t would permit; 2) Talking to vets, (one former Navy Seal) they estimate that the gov’t is some thirty years ahead of it. ”O” has a hit list. Question: Is the possibility that there are “T- 100″ prototypes being tested unrealistic ?

    February 26, 2013 at 8:35 am

    • Not unrealistic at all my friend, God bless you!

      February 26, 2013 at 11:05 am

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