Growing Ears to Order
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Researchers are making progress in growing replacement ears, using a mix of old and new methods in tissue engineering and reconstructive surgery: "Using a computer model of a patient's remaining ear, scientists craft a titanium framework covered in collagen, the stuff that gives skin elasticity and strength. They take a snip of cartilage from inside the nose or between the ribs and seed the scaffold with these cells. This is incubated for about two weeks in a lab dish to grow more cartilage. When it's ready to implant, a skin graft is taken from the patient to cover the cartilage and the ear is stitched into place. Scientists in her lab have maintained lab-grown sheep ears [for] 20 weeks, proving it can be done successfully and last long-term. They also have grown anatomically correct human ears from cells. These have been implanted on the backs of lab rats to keep them nourished and allow further research. ... Now they are ready to seek approval from the Food and Drug Administration to implant these into patients - probably in about a year."

Link: http://www.boston.com/lifestyle/health/2012/09/09/impact-surprising-methods-heal-wounded-troops/8l1mjXFfwTJ1ry2RN58cQI/story.html

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