Science

Scientists Develop 3D-Printed Vegan Nose for Victims of Cancer or Accidents

Scientists at Swansea University in the UK are developing a 3D-printed vegan nose for patients who have lost their own due to cancer or an accident.

Existing methods of creating new noses involve taking cartilage from patients’ ribs, which is not ideally suited as it is more brittle than that found in the nose. The procedure can also cause long-term health complications, since up to three ribs may need to be removed.

“This research programme will transform the future of surgery”

Funded by medical charity The Scar Free Foundation, the new technology involves creating cartilage from nanocellulose hydrogel (a type of softwood pulp) and hyaluronic acid (a bacteria-derived ingredient often used in skin creams). This flexible material can be 3D-printed to achieve the precise shape required.

The vegan cartilage is then immersed in a solution containing cartilage cells from the patient’s body, which colonise and stiffen the 3D-printed structure. Finally, the nose is transplanted onto the patient’s face.

© The Scar Free Foundation

Scar-free healing

“This life-changing research is part of our commitment to achieve scar-free healing within a generation for the millions of people living with scarring in the UK and across the world,” said Brendan Eley, chief executive of the Scar Free Foundation.

The technology could also potentially be used to replace other body parts, such as ears.

“Successful translation of this research programme will transform the future of surgery, removing the need to transfer tissue from one part of the body to another and avoid the associated pain and scarring,” said Professor Iain Whitaker, chair of plastic surgery at Swansea University Medical School. “Although we are currently focused on cartilage, the scientific concepts and platform technologies our work is based on can be applied to tissue types such as blood vessel, nerve, bone, skin, and fat which will enhance the impact significantly.”

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