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Five children get new ear made from their own cells

Five children have been grown a new ear made from their own cells in a world first trial.

Chinese researchers conducted the groundbreaking experiment on children with microtia – when the ear is underdeveloped.

The young patients’ own ear cartilage cells, obtained from their other ear, were then used to form a new one in the landmark trial.

The findings were published in the journal EBioMedicine.

Microtia, which strikes between one in 6,000 and 12,000 births, can often cause hearing difficulties. Conventional treatments for the condition revolve around synthetic ears or using cartilage taken from the child’s ribs. The new treatment, pioneered by Guangdong Zhou at Jiao Tong University in Shanghai, offers hope of an easier method, New Scientist reports.

It involves taking a CT scan of the patient’s healthy ear to then create a 3D-printed replica, which is mirrored to represent their affected ear. A mould is then made, which is littered with tiny holes, and filled with materials that degrade within the body.

The groundbreaking new technique to grow new ears was pioneered by researchers at Jiao Tong University in Shanghai, China. Their trial revealed it helped regrow ears for five children suffering from microtia – which causes underdeveloped ears. The treatment involves taking a CT scan of the patient’s healthy ear to then create a 3D-printed replica, which is mirrored to represent their affected ear.

A mould is then made, which is littered with tiny holes, and filled with materials that degrade within the body.

A small sample of cells that make ear cartilage are then taken from the patient’s underdeveloped ear and used to fill the holes.

Over the space of 12 weeks, the cells begin to grow in the shape of the mould and the other materials in the mould begin to degrade.

The treatment also involves placing a ’tissue expander’ underneath the skin of the affected ear. This helps stretch the skin.

By the time the process is nearing the end, this has created a flap of skin that the newly created ear structure is implanted into.

A small sample of cells that make ear cartilage are then taken from the patient’s underdeveloped ear and used to fill the holes.

Over the space of 12 weeks, the cells begin to grow in the shape of the mould and the other materials in the mould begin to degrade.

The treatment also involves placing a ’tissue expander’ underneath the skin of the affected ear. This helps stretch the skin.

By the time the process is nearing the end, this has created a flap of skin that the newly created ear structure is implanted into.

However, it is unclear how long it will take for the entire treatment to finish, and the researchers will monitor each of the five patients for five years.

The first patient in the study underwent the experiment two and a half years ago, and it has been a success for her.

Researchers said similar results have been recorded for the other four, but some of the new ears have slightly distorted.



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