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BME alumnus creates replacement ear using 3-D printer

February 20, 2013

Mold design based on ear anatomy.

Figure 2. Mold design based on ear anatomy. The digital images of ears (A) were used to design 7-part molds (B–H) by embedding the solid images of the ear into virtual blocks. PLOS ONE JOURNAL RESEARCH ARTICLE $#8220;High-Fidelity Tissue Engineering of Patient-Specific Auricles for Reconstruction of Pediatric Microtia and Other Auricular Deformities” Alyssa J. Reiffel, Concepcion Kafka, Karina A. Hernandez, Samantha Popa, Justin L. Perez, Sherry Zhou, Satadru Pramanik, Bryan N. Brown, Won Seuk Ryu, Lawrence J. Bonassar, Jason A. Spector

JHU BME alumnus Lawrence Bonassar, Associate Professor and Associate Chair, Department of Biomedical Engineering, Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering, Cornell University, co-authored research showing that it is possible to create a replacement ear using a 3-D printer and injections of living cells. According to an article recently published in Bioscience Technology, by using a 3-D camera to capture the image of a child’s ear, “the 3-D printer produced a soft mold of the ear,” which was then injected with a special collagen gel full of cartilage producing cow cells - forming a scaffolding. During the next few weeks cartilage grew to replace the collagen. The article states that this “work is a first step toward one day growing customized new ears for children born with malformed ones, or people who lose one to accident or disease.” Dr. Bonassar adds that “this enables us to rapidly customize implants for whoever needs them.”

Dr. Bonassar received his bachelor’s degree from the JHU Department of Biomedical Engineering in 1989. He was an undergraduate advisee of Aleksander S. Popel, Professor, JHU BME School of Medicine, Systems Biology Laboratory.

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Bioscience Technology

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PLOS ONE: Published Research Paper