Scientists Grow New Ears for Children with Birth Defect

In China, scientists have created ears for five children with microtia, a birth defect that that affects the shape and form of the ear. By using 3D printing and cultured cells, scientist have successfully grown ear shaped cartilage for patients suffering from microtia. This is the first study of its type, and may be a future form of treatment for microtia to replace current treatment options which are limited to reconstructive surgery using plastic ears that can attach to the body, or artificial ears made from cartilage in the patient’s rib cage.

Lawrence Bonassar, a Cornell professor in the biomedical engineering and mechanical and aerospace engineering department who has also studied 3D printed ears made the following remarks about the future of microtia treatment: “This work clearly shows tissue engineering approaches for reconstruction of the ear and other cartilaginous tissues will become a clinical reality very soon.”