The patient, who is from Mexico, was born with microtia, a rare birth defect that causes the pinna, or outer part of the ear, to be small and misshapen (it can also affect hearing in the ear). With more research, company leaders said, the technology could be used to make many other replacement body parts, including spinal discs, noses, knee menisci, rotator cuffs and reconstructive tissue for lumpectomies. Beyond that, they said, 3D printing could actually produce much more complex vital organs, such as livers, kidneys and pancreas.
“This is so exciting, sometimes I have to restrain myself a bit,” says Dr. Arturo Bonilla, a pediatric reconstructive surgeon in San Antonio who performed the woman’s implant surgery. The trial was funded by 3DBio Therapeutics, but Dr. Bonilla has no financial interest in the company. “If everything goes according to plan, it will revolutionize the way this is done,” he said.
James Iatridis, chief of a spine bioengineering lab at the Icahn School of Medicine in Mount Sinai, said there are other 3D-printed tissue implants in the pipeline, but he was not aware of other products being developed in the pipeline. be tested in a clinical trial.
“The 3D ear implant is then a proof of concept to evaluate biocompatibility and shape adaptation and shape retention in living humans,” said Dr. itridis.
Still, the outer part of the ear is a relatively simple appendage that’s more cosmetic than functional, said Dr. Feinberg by Carnegie Mellon. He warned that the road to solid organs – such as livers, kidneys, hearts and lungs – was still long. “Going from an ear to an intervertebral disc alone is a pretty big jump, but it’s more realistic when you have the ear,” he said.
The manufacturing process of 3D printing creates a solid, three-dimensional object from a digital model. The technology generally involves a computer-controlled printer that deposits material in thin layers to create the precise shape of the object.