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Living ear tissue bioprinted by 3DBio Therapeutics. Photo: 3DBio Therapeutics

A startup is applying for clinical trials of its method of 3D bioprinting living ear cartilage tissue that could be transplanted onto patients.

Why it matters: 3DBio Therapeutics' product would make a difference for thousands of children born with a rare congenital deformity, but it also demonstrates the way forward for the precise manufacturing of tissue for implantation and other medical products.

Background: Children born with microtia — which occurs in roughly 1 out of every 5,000 births — never fully develop their outer ear, which is mostly cartilage. The most commonly used surgical treatment involves removing cartilage from the ribs and sculpting it into a framework shaped like an ear.

  • But that can involve multiple surgeries under anesthesia for young children, which is painful and has "aesthetic results that are very limited," says Dan Cohen, c0-f0under and CEO of 3DBio Therapeutics.

How it works: Using a therapeutic-grade bioprinter — a form of 3D printing that can produce tissue using bio-ink, rather than liquid plastic or metal — 3D therapeutics can print out living, ear-shaped tissue.

  • The bio-ink is seeded with the patient's own ear cartilage cells, and the final product is matched in shape for implantation.
  • "You don't have to carve out a child's ribs, and you don't have inpatient nights in the hospital," says Cohen. "It can be a streamlined, outpatient procedure."

What's next: 3DBio Therapeutics has received orphan drug and rare pediatric disease designations from the FDA for its ear cartilage bioprinting treatment, which should speed its application for clinical trials.

The bottom line: The field of bioprinting is growing, and it could advance to the point of producing personalized organs to replace body parts as they wear out.

Go deeper

"Great nations don't ignore their most painful moments": Biden signs bill making Juneteenth a federal holiday

Biden speaking before the signing on June 17. Photo: Oliver Contreras/Sipa/Bloomberg via Getty Images

President Joe Biden on Thursday signed legislation making Juneteenth a federal holiday, just two days before the occasion.

Why it matters: The holiday, which will be known as Juneteenth National Independence Day, is now the 11th annual federal holiday and the first one established since the creation of Martin Luther King Jr. Day in 1983.

Dan Primack, author of Pro Rata
35 mins ago - Podcasts

House antitrust chair discusses the bills to bust up Big Tech

House lawmakers last week introduced a series of five bipartisan bills designed to curb the power of Big Tech, targeting Apple, Amazon, Facebook and Google in all but name.

Axios Re:Cap speaks with Rep. David Cicilline (D-R.I.), chair of the House antitrust committee and a sponsor on most of the bills, to learn how he plans to get these measures over the finish line. The congressman from Rhode Island also faces a slate of other priorities and in the wake of a spending package to bolster the U.S. tech sector’s ability to compete with China.

Why online games have a shorter life span

"Grand Theft Auto Online" will join a growing list of obsolete games on older platforms this December when Rockstar Game shuts down the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 versions of the game.

Why it matters: Video game preservation is one of the biggest challenges when it comes to video games, physical or otherwise.