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article imageScientists grow a 'human looking' ear

By Tim Sandle     Aug 3, 2013 in Science
Scientists used a titanium wire framework to help ears - which look like human ears - and which are made from collagen and sheep cartilage cells, to maintain their shape.
A science team have fabricated an artificial ear from titanium wire and bovine collagen. According to the BBC, ear reconstructions are one of the new types of surgical techniques to help those who have received serious injuries. One problem with ear reconstructions is that they are use cartilage harvested from patients’ rib cages or polymer implants; and these materials do not often achieve the flexibility of real ears and they do not always maintain shape.
In an attempt to build a stronger and more flexible ear, researchers used a 3-D printer to produce an ear-shaped structure and then used this to make a mold. From this, they then built an ear-shaped support system from titanium wire, poured cow collagen into the mold, and embedded the wire within the collagen. Finally, they seeded the ear-shaped scaffold with cartilage cells from sheep.
The researchers embedded their synthetic ears under the skin of rats and let them grow for 12 weeks, allowing the cartilage cells to build their own extracellular matrix. The ear looks like a human ear and would,. theoretically, work as one.
The research team hope to undertake trials whereby their created ears will be transplanted onto people within a few years.
The research findings have been published in the the Journal of the Royal Society Interface. The paper is titled "Design of composite scaffolds and three-dimensional shape analysis for tissue-engineered ear."
More about Ear, Laboratory, Genetics, human ear, 3D Printer
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