New year, new ear: Scientists use CT, 3D printing for kids born with defects

Scientists in China have managed to use a combination of computed tomography (CT) technology and 3D printing of cultured cells to grow new ears for five children between the ages of 5 and 9 born with ear defects, according to a recent article by CNN.  

Microtia impacts the shape and function of the ear. It can result in impairment and impacts an estimate of 5,000 live births in mostly Hispanic, Asian, Native American and Andean populations.  

To build the new ear, researchers collected cartilage cells from the children's defected ears to grow a new ear-shape cartilage that was based on 3D-printed models of a healthy ear. The new study was published in this month's EBioMedicine.  

"The delivery of shaped cartilage for the reconstruction of microtia has been a goal of the tissue engineering community for more than two decades," said Lawrence Bonassar, a professor of biomedical engineering and mechanical and aerospace engineering at Cornell University in Ithaca, New York. 

Bonassar was not involved in the new study, but has studied 3D-printed ears in microtia patients, according to CNN

"This work clearly shows tissue engineering approaches for reconstruction of the ear and other cartilaginous tissues will become a clinical reality very soon," he said of the new study. "The aesthetics of the tissue produced are on par with what can be expected of the best clinical procedures at the present time." 

Read the original article below: