By Steve Connor -
Scientists have built an artificial human ear by combining living tissues from cows and sheep and growing them around a flexible wire frame that retains the correct anatomical shape of the organ.
It is the latest development in 3D tissue engineering where substitute organs are made in the laboratory in the hope of using them to replace the damaged or missing body parts of patients.
The artificial ear is described as a “proof of concept” prototype, and further research and development will be needed before it could be used in clinical transplants on patients.
However, medical researchers hope that patients with missing or deformed outer ears, such as children suffering from a congenital deformity called microtia, might soon be offered living substitutes that could be permanently attached to their heads.
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