Published on February 25th, 20130
Finally, 3-D printed organs turn into reality
Using 3-D printers and collagen gel molds, scientists at Cornell University, USA, could create in a few years human ears ready to be implanted in children suffering from malformations of the external ear (microtia, a congenital deformity).
Children born with microtia, the only solution was, until recently, plastic surgery reconstruction operations involving painful or hearing but not sufficiently resembled a real ear. Artificial ear implants (made of a Styrofoam-like material) are not always set well and tend to “get through the skin”, which is painful and dangerous, and the alternative method - taking cartilage from the patient’s ribs, “carving” in a ear shape and implanting it - involves two painful surgeries.
But experts in bioengineering at Cornell University have devised a more efficient alternative, making artificial ear that looks and works like a real one.
The method could be useful not only for children with microtia, but also those who have lost portions of ears in accidents or cancer.
Researchers have started to make a 3-D image of the human ear. Based on this picture, human printed organs using a 3-D printer, a mold, the hydrogel injected then a high density to act as an armature that can grow cartilage.
Ear cartilage is a feature, explained the researchers: no immediate intake is needed for blood to survive, making it well suited for such an approach.
Using special hydrogel collagen, cartilage not only survives, but also proliferating (proliferating cells), giving masks a cartilaginous matrix.
Another advantage is the short time for taking an ear by this method. After claims specialists, it takes about half a day to ear design, print it a day and half an hour to inject the hydrogel. After another 15 minutes, the ear is placed in a cell culture nutrients for several days before being implanted.
In this study were used, yet bovine cartilage cells, but researchers now experiencing ways to expand the range of cartilage cells by combining them with different development environments.
One of the techniques considered is combining them with cells from the bone marrow. To remove cell debris microtia cartilage ear of a child, a small graft of normal ear and a small amount of bone marrow transplantation are procedures that could be performed in 20-30 minutes, while the method of “classical” theory of sampling of rib cartilage surgery would involve 5-6 hours.
Further tests are needed about the effectiveness of the procedure until it can be tested on humans, but experts believe that in four or five years might pass the extensive clinical trials.
Source: Discovery News / Credit foto: LINDSAY FRANCE, CORNELL UNIVERSITY PHOTOGRAPHY