Tissue engineering: A woman receives 3‑D printed ear implant made from her own cells

In the field of tis­sue engi­neer­ing, a mile­stone has been set when a 20 year old woman received a 3‑D print­ed ear implant made from her own cells on Thurs­day. The woman was born with a small and mis­shapen right year. The New York Times reports that this trans­plant is the first known exam­ple of a 3‑D print­ed implant made of liv­ing tissues.

Accord­ing to the report, the new ear was trans­plant­ed ear­li­er in March. And it is shaped pre­cise­ly like the patient’s oth­er ear. Regen­er­a­tive med­i­cine com­pa­ny 3DBio Ther­a­peu­tics said, NYT writes, “The new year will con­tin­ue to regen­er­ate car­ti­lage tis­sue, giv­ing it the look and feel of a nat­ur­al ear”.

Tissue engineering: What exactly is it?

Tis­sue engi­neer­ing is the use of cells or bio­ma­te­ri­als to cre­ate arti­fi­cial tis­sues and organs as need­ed. It is a new approach that com­bines biol­o­gy and tech­nol­o­gy to cre­ate replace­ment tis­sues and organs, explain researchers.

While tra­di­tion­al approach­es use an individual’s own cells to grow new parts, this one goes a step fur­ther by using 3D print­ers to build those parts with the right shape. While sev­er­al research groups have been work­ing on print­ing blood ves­sels, only a few have tried to cre­ate ear-shaped tissue.

Will the transplant be successful?

Although the com­pa­ny has not revealed any tech­ni­cal details of the trans­plant yet, offi­cials involved in the trans­plant said that the chances that the trans­plants could fail or bring unan­tic­i­pat­ed health com­pli­ca­tions do exist. How­ev­er, the pos­si­bil­i­ty of the new ear being reject­ed by the body is high­ly unlike­ly. It’s because the ear is made from the patients’ own tissues.

Relat­ed Sto­ries:

The report says: A 3‑D print­ing is a man­u­fac­tur­ing process that cre­ates a sol­id, three-dimen­sion­al object from a dig­i­tal mod­el. It involves a com­put­er-con­trolled print­er that deposits mate­r­i­al in thin lay­ers cre­at­ing the pre­cise shape of the object. The phar­ma­ceu­ti­cal indus­try has been using the 3‑D print­ing tech­nol­o­gy for sev­er­al years now.

Significance of the tissue engineering

It’s said to be a mile­stone in tis­sue engi­neer­ing. It’s because it’s the first ever tis­sue engi­neer­ing that is done with a patien­t’s own cells. It also helps the researchers to bet­ter under­stand how liv­ing tis­sues work.

The field of tis­sue engi­neer­ing is rapid­ly grow­ing. Researchers are cre­at­ing tis­sues made from a patient’s own cells in order to cre­ate tis­sues com­pat­i­ble with their bodies.

Med­ical experts say its use has so far been major­ly con­fined to pro­duc­ing cus­tom-fit pros­thet­ic limbs. They are usu­al­ly made of plas­tic and light­weight met­als. But, the ear implant — made from a tiny glob of cells har­vest­ed from the woman’s mis­shapen ear — is said to be a game chang­er as per experts in the field. Sci­en­tists say that the suc­cess of this trans­plant would mean that 3‑D print­ing could even pro­duce far more com­plex vital organs, like liv­ers, kid­neys and pancreases.

The trans­plan­ta­tion of the 3‑D print­ed ear will pave the way for a new era of recon­struc­tive surgery; and tis­sue engi­neer­ing that could rev­o­lu­tion­ize the future of medicine.

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