3D-printed ear successfully transplanted in U.S. patient

A patient in the U.S. has successfully received a 3D-printed ear made of their own cells, in what appears to be a first-of-its-kind procedure.

A 20-year-old patient with microtia, a rare congenital deformity causing underdeveloped or absent ears, received the new appendage in March, according to a June release by 3DBio Therapeutics, the company that manufactured the ear from the patient’s own cartilage cells.

A month later, the procedure is being considered a success with no signs of rejection from the patient.

“(It’s) a pretty big milestone,” Dr. Adam Feinberg, a professor of biomedical engineering at Carnegie Mellon University, told CTV’s Your Morning on Wednesday.

Feinberg, who is not affiliated with 3DBio or involved with the procedure, is also a co-founder of FluidForm, a regenerative medicine company that uses 3D printing.

“It basically has transitioned this technology from not if we can do it but when it will become more broadly available.”

The procedure was part of an ongoing clinical trial for patients with microtia and is expected to enrol 11 patients in the upcoming months, the company said in its release.

The 3D-printed ear is expected to continue to regenerate cells and cartilage tissue on its own, giving it the feel of a natural ear, according to the release.

Feinberg hopes the technology will soon be adopted for other organs such as lungs, kidneys or hearts but cautions that it might take another decade.

“But, I don’t think it’s impossible now anymore. It’s very much possible.”

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