Surgeons Attaches Lab-Grown Ear to Patient

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Courtesy of Toshiyuki IMAI (Flickr CC0)

United States surgeons have managed to attach a reconstructed human ear to their patient. The ear was created from the patient’s own skin tissue and was lab-grown. They are hoping this pioneering procedure will one day be used to treat those affected with a rare birth defect.

The 3D bioimplant was created by the company 3dBio Therapeutics. They named the implant AuriNovo. The surgery was led by Dr. Arturo Bonilla — founder and director of the Microtia-Congenital Ear Deformity Institute in San Antonio, Texas.

Dr. Bonilla has dedicated his entire career — over 25 years — exclusively to caring for children born with microtia and atresia. He is recognized as the leading pediatric microtia surgeon because he utilizes the children’s own natural cartilage.

Courtesy of Klaus D. Peter (Wikimedia CC0)

Microtia occurs in about 1 of every 2,000-10,000 babies. Factors that can increase risk include diabetic mothers and a maternal diet that is lower in carbohydrates and folic acid, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Dr. Bonilla’s experience as a Pediatric ENT (Ear, Nose, and Throat) has allowed him the knowledge to place bone-anchored hearing aids to improve the child’s hearing. He has developed special techniques that resulted in excellent outcomes for his patients, according to Microtia – Congenital Ear Institute.

“As a physician who has treated thousands of children with microtia from across the country and around the world, I am inspired by what this technology may mean for microtia patients and their families,” stated Dr. Bonilla.

He hopes to one day replace the current treatment for microtia with his implant. Currently, patients undergo either grafting cartilage from their ribs or using synthetic materials, porous polyethylene (PPE), to reconstruct outer ears.

The AuriNovo is created first by 3D scanning the patient’s opposite ear to create a blueprint, then collecting a sample of the subject’s ear cartilage cells. Next, the cells are grown to a sufficient quantity and attached.

Doctors surround the implant with a printed, biodegradable shell, to provide early support. Eventually, this shell is absorbed into the patient’s body.

As the patient grows, the implant is supposed to mature, developing the natural look and feel, including elasticity, of a regular ear.

“The AuriNovo implant requires a less invasive surgical procedure than the use of rib cartilage for reconstruction. We also expect it to result in a more flexible ear than reconstruction with a PPE implant,” said Dr. Bonilla.

Males are more likely to be affected by microtia than females, with Pacific Islander, Hispanic, Asian, and Native Americans more impacted than non-Hispanic white people.

Written by Sheena Robertson


Science Alert: Surgeons Transplanted a Lab-Grown Ear From Patient’s Own Cells in Early Clinical Trial
Microtia – Congenital Ear Institute: About Dr. Bonilla

Top and Featured Image Courtesy of Toshiyuki IMAI’s Flickr Page – Creative Commons License
Inset Image by Klaus D. Peter, Wiehl, Germany Courtesy of Wikimedia – Creative Commons License

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