Scientists Who Have Grown A Human Ear On The Back Of A Rat Say They Will Be Able To Use Them In Humans In Five Years
Human ears to could be ‘grown to order’ within five years, claim Japanese scientists who have unveiled a rat with an ear on its back.
The Tokyo and Kyoto university technology could be used to help children born with facial abnormalities, as well as youngsters mauled by dogs.
Adults, including soldiers injured in battle of people who have suffered accidents, could also benefit. At the moment, replacement ears are sculpted from cartilage taken from the patient’s ribs.
However, multiple operations are needed, plus the removal of the cartilage is painful and chest never fully heals.
In contrast, the new technique would require just a small sample of cells as starting material. Plus, the finished ear would be a living thing and so should grow with the child.
The scientists began by turning human stem cells – ‘master cells’ – into cartilage cells.
The lab-grown cartilage was then formed into tiny balls and placed in inside plastic tubes shaped like a human ear on a rat’s back.
After two months, the framework dissolved, leaving behind what looks like a two-inch hear lying flat against the animal’s back.
The technique is one of several being perfected around the world, in the aim of making bespoke replacements for body parts damaged by accidents, ravaged by disease or malformed at birth.
Doctors in London have grown a nose from scratch, using the patient’s arm to nurture it, rather than a rat’s back.
They have also built an artificial windpipe and say that eventually it may even be possible to grow a whole face in the lab.
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