Biotechnology has benefited to a great extent by the advancement of 3D printing. Researchers and Scientists have experimented on the applications of 3D printing and are using it to augment the new era of medical organ printing or organ transplantation. A recent research by a group of Indian scientists has resulted in successfully growing a 3D printed implantable ear. These scientists stated that they used this technique to 3D print cartilage which continues to survive and grow normally in rabbits.
The group of scientists from SIMS Hospital and SRM University, Chennai, believe their research will pave the way for 3D printing implantable body parts. Previously, 3D printed ears were grown from cartilage taken from separate part of the patient’s body but the aim of this new research is to 3D print a new ear from stem cells, without the need of cartilage from the patient’s body.
The Indian scientists dedicated more than two years to this research and have achieved positive results. This has granted them permission to continue their experiments.
The first step to creating a 3D printed implantable ear is to grow it in a culture flask where the concerned cells from the host patient are immersed in a nutrient-rich solution which allows the cells to survive and grow. This growth stage takes around three weeks.
On completion of this stage, the grown cells are then seeded onto a 3D printed scaffold built into the shape of a regular ear. This scaffold is made from biocompatible and biodegradable material and acts as the primary base for the cells to grow on. Basically, it gives the shape to the cells.
Once the cells take the shape of the scaffold the scientists implant the entire scaffold under the skin of the host. Since the cells are live, they continue to grow whereas the biodegradable scaffold starts to disintegrate inside the body.
During the experiment, this scaffold was implanted in the abdomen of a rabbit. The rabbit was observed for around three months before the scaffold was removed.
Dr. Shantanu Patil, head of the translation medicine department at SRM University said, “We kept it under the skin in the rabbit’s abdomen for three months. We also left an empty scaffold on the other side of the abdomen,”
A week ago, the scaffolds were removed from both sides of the abdomen to study the results. Speaking on the result Dr. Patil stated that, “A large part of the scaffold had disappeared,” He added, “If we had left it for a little longer we would have had better results. We are now using this sample to check on the tensile strength and other mechanical properties.”
Helping Children with Birth Defects
The ultimate of this research is to 3D print ears to help children with birth defects. The partially successful test has boosted the morale of the scientists but it will be too early to call it a complete success.
According to the Dr. K Sridhar, SIMS Hospital Medical Director & a senior plastic surgeon, “We still have a long way to go before we give this to a child with a birth defect, but we now have a definite path. We will be doing a large scale animal study to reconfirm our results before we start any human trial.”
The research will continue further and the Committee for the Purpose of Control and Supervision of Experiments on Animals (CPCSEA) has reportedly granted permission to conduct experiments on 18 more rabbits.
Source: The Times of India
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