- A process called bio-printing creates specifically-crafted ears in 3D for children born with ear deformities.
- Associate Professor Payal Mukherjee, ear, nose, and throat specialist for Sydney Adventist Hospital (commonly referred to as the “San”) is co-spearheading the project.
- The project has been named a finalist in this year’s Australian Museum Eureka Awards, Australia’s most prominent national science awards.
13 September 2022 | For the first time in Australia, 3D printing, cell biology, and materials engineering are being combined in an innovative project called NEW EARS, in which new ears are printed.
Associate Professor Payal Mukherjee, ear, nose, and throat specialist for Sydney Adventist Hospital (commonly referred to as the “San”) is spearheading the project with Professor Gordon Wallace from the University of Wollongong. They are harnessing 3D printing technology to help children with ear deformity.
According to Adventist Record the project has been named a finalist in this year’s Australian Museum Eureka Awards, Australia’s most prominent national science awards.
NEW EARS helps kids with microtia, a medical term for an incompletely formed ear.
“A child with microtia should ideally have their hearing rehabilitation surgery planned by age four or five, but hearing rehabilitation and ear reconstruction are seldom coordinated, as the ear reconstruction is often delayed until the child’s ear is fully grown at around age ten,” said Mukherjee to Adventist Record. “With children commonly submitted to repeated surgical procedures, many become so traumatized that by their early teens, they start to reject health care, even if it means living with deafness and deformed, chronically infected ears.”
The NEW EARS team is working on regenerating 3D-printed ear cartilage (specifically crafted for each child) via technology called “bioprinting,” and the project is currently in the second phase of animal trials.
“In both the bio-ear and the prosthetic silicone ear, because these are 3D-printed, age is no restriction anymore, which means children with microtia can get their hearing back sooner,” said Dr Mukherjee.
Also in the works is a 3D-printed prosthetic ear created with silicone technology. The ear can help patients undergoing chemoradiotherapy after surgery. A clinical trial is under way on this device.