Doctors at the Microtia-Congenital Ear Institute, Queens, New York, have successfully transplanted a 3-D printed ear made of human cells.
According to 3-DBio Therapeutics, a biotech company in Queens, New York, the procedure is the first time 3-D printing is used to make a body part with a patient’s own cells.
Announced on Thursday, the procedure was conducted on 20 year-old woman born with a small and mishaped right ear in March.
Dscribed as a stunning advance in the field of tissue engineering by Independent experts, the transplanted ear, which is part of the first clinical trial of a successful medical application of this technology, was, according to the Queens based 3DBio Therapeutics, printed in a shape that precisely matched the woman’s left ear.
The ear will continue to regenerate cartilage tissue, giving it the look and feel of a natural ear.
“It’s definitely a big deal,” said Adam Feinberg, a professor of biomedical engineering and materials science and engineering at Carnegie Mellon University. Dr. Feinberg, who is not affiliated with 3DBio, is a co-founder of FluidForm, a regenerative medicine company that also uses 3-D printing. “It shows this technology is not an ‘if’ anymore, but a ‘when,’” he said.
While announcing the breakthrough, 3-D Bio did not disclose the technical details of the process citing propriety concerns, a reason why outside experts are yet to be able to evaluate it. However, the company revealed that federal regulators had already reviewed the trial design and set strict manufacturing standards. It added that the data would be published in a medical journal when the study was complete.
With seven under its kitty in its quest to improve tissue transplant, the ear procedure is one of 3-DBio’s several recent breakthroughs. It is sequel to the recent transplant of a genetically modified pig’s heart by surgeons in Maryland, US, engineered by United Therapeutics Corp.