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Cornell scientists 3D print ears with help from rat tails and cow ears

Brian Heater
02.22.13
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Science! A team of bioengineers and physicians over at Cornell University recently detailed their work to 3D print lifelike ears that may be used to treat birth defects like microtia and assist those who have lost or damaged an ear due to an accident or cancer. The product, which is, "practically identical to the human ear," according to the school, was created using 3D printing and gels made from living cells -- collagen was gathered from rat tails and cartilage cells were taken from cow's ears. The whole process is quite quick, according to associate professor Lawrence Bonassar, who co-authored the report on the matter,

"It takes half a day to design the mold, a day or so to print it, 30 minutes to inject the gel, and we can remove the ear 15 minutes later. We trim the ear and then let it culture for several days in nourishing cell culture media before it is implanted."

The team is looking to implant the first ear in around three years, if all goes well.

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