People seem to be 3D printing everything now-a-days. Who knew the latest trend would be... ears!

A company called 3DBio Therapeutics has created the first ever 3D-bioprinted ear implant. It is made from the patients living cells and grown in a lab. This advancement could make significant changes to the biomedical field.

Close-up of man's sideburns and ear
Hemera Technologies

3DBio Therapeutics is a startup company based in Long Island, founded in 2014 by Cornell alumni. These include Dan Cohen (M.S. '07, Ph.D. '10) and Lawrence Bonassar, who taught Biomedical Engineering at Cornell for 14 years. He now serves as a professor at Columbia University.

Over 1,500 children are born every year with a congenital ear deformity called microtia. This breakthrough could have a great impact on their lives. This could also help develop tissue implants for other conditions, deformities, and traumatic injuries.

Doctors with x-rays

What Happens?

A surgery is performed where chondrocytes are taken from the patient's ear. Chondrocytes are the cells in the ear that form cartilage. These cells are then placed into a special cell culture system and collagen-based ink. Once mixed, they are designed into the shape of the ear.

Another surgery is performed where the implant is placed under the skin. A biodegradable shell is also there to give extra support and protection.

Young woman assumes a hearing aid

The Future

Both Bonassar and Cohen believe this will be the future of biomedical technology. Though it will take time to prove this is a reliable method, they believe progress in this field will take off quickly.

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