A doctor has, for the first time, successfully transplanted a 3D printed ear made from a patient’s own cells using 3DBio Therapeutics.
A 20-year-old woman is said to be the first person to have a successful ear transplant using 3D printing, which uses the patient’s own cells to build the implant.
The woman, who goes by the name Alexa and is from Mexico, was born with a rare birth abnormality that caused the outer section of her right ear to become undersized and malformed, according to the New York Times.
According to the New York Times, Dr. Arturo Bonilla, a pediatric ear reconstructive surgeon in San Antonio, Texas, began the procedure by removing half a gram of cartilage from Alexa’s ear and taking a 3D scan of her healthy left ear. He subsequently forwarded this material to 3DBio Therapeutics, a regenerative medicine company based in Queens, New York.
The tissue sample was used by 3DBio to grow billions of cells, which were then mixed with collagen-based ink and injected into a specialized 3D bio-printer to produce a mirror replica of the patient’s healthy ear. According to reports, the entire procedure took less than ten minutes.
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Dr. Bonilla implanted the ear under Alexa’s skin, just above her jawbone, after the printed ear was sent overnight in cold storage. The procedure was completed in March, and according to 3DBio, the ear will continue to develop cartilage tissue until it has the appearance and feel of a normal ear.
Alexa has apparently expressed her enthusiasm for the new ear, despite the fact that it has not yet fully matured. She claimed that her ear never affected her as a child, but that as she approached adolescence, she became more self-conscious about her looks.
“You care a little more for your image when you’re a teenager. Some people said things that were not thoughtful, and it started bothering me,” she explained, adding that she has become accustomed to having her hair long and loose to hide her right ear.
Alexa believes her self-esteem will improve as a result of the operation, and she is looking forward to being able to wear her hair in a ponytail or bun again.
3DBio released the outcomes of Alexa’s reconstructive surgery in a news release on its website. The company is currently participating in a clinical research to determine the effectiveness of such technology.
The trial is claimed to comprise 11 patients, although the transplants could potentially fail or cause unanticipated health consequences. However, because the cells used in the printing come from the patients, doctors and 3DBio officials claim the tissue is unlikely to be rejected by the body.