3D printing in medicine is getting better and better. Now, according to the New York Times, a research team from the company 3DBio Therapeutics has succeeded for the first time in printing a functioning ear from a patient’s own cells and then transplanting it.

This type of bioprinting is a first in the field of tissue engineering and could be groundbreaking for regenerative medicine. According to the experts, the experiment shows that 3D printing with biomaterial is capable of a lot more than previously thought.

The new ear, which was transplanted into a 20-year-old patient, should not only adapt perfectly to the other ear in the next few months, but also continue to grow and form new cartilage tissue.

Although the use of living tissue for 3D printing is nothing new, the success of previous experiments has been rather manageable. This looks different in the case of the 3DBio Therapeutics experiment. The company used half a gram’s worth of cells taken from the patient’s ear, which were then grown into a billion cells thanks to the company’s proprietary technology. The 3D printer then used those cells, along with a proprietary bio-ink, to create the individualized ear.

The surgeon who performed the transplant was also extremely enthusiastic, according to the New York Times:

“As a physician who has treated thousands of children with microtia from across the country and around the world, I am excited about what this technology can mean for microtia patients and their families”

 

3DBio Therapeutics now hopes to apply the printing technology to other parts of the body, such as intervertebral discs, noses or rotator cuffs, in further field trials.

 

Post image: 3DBio Therapeutics

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