10:03 03 August 2013
US scientists have successfully grown an artificial human ear in a lab on a flexible wire frame using living tissues from sheep and cows. The artificial ear was then implanted on a rat with suppressed immune system that enabled the ear to grow.
"We've demonstrated the first full-sized adult human ear on the rat model," Dr Thomas Cervantes, who led the study, told BBC News.
"One - we were able to keep the shape of the ear, after 12 weeks of growth in the rat. And then secondly we were also able to keep the natural flexibility of the cartilage."
Dr Cervantes also added that this new development is a huge step forward in the field of tissue engineering. He added: "In a clinical model, what we would do is harvest a small sample of cartilage, that the patient has, and then expand that so we could go ahead and do the same process.”
"This research is a significant step forward in preparing the tissue-engineered ear for human clinical trials."
This research aims to help people who were born with malformed ears or those who have lost them in accidents.
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