By Ashley Chang, Genetics ’15
Researchers at the University of Basel in Switzerland have successfully used lab-engineered cartilage for nose reconstruction. This study was conducted on five patients between ages 76 and 88 who had significant nasal damage after skin cancer surgery. One year after the replacement, all of them note significant improvement in the ability to breathe as well as cosmetic appeal, and no patients had significant side effects. This is a groundbreaking study as it opens of the possibility of engineered cartilage replacement in other areas, such as the knee, and of tissue-engineering as a whole.
These cartilage cells were extracted from the patients’ nasal septum. The desired cells, chondrocytes, were then isolated and multiplied before being cultured in a collagen membrane for two weeks. This resulted in an implant about forty times as large as the original biopsy. The cells were then shaped according to the correct replacement size and implanted. While not yet clinically available, these new engineered grafts could become a less invasive alternative to natural skin grafts taken from other parts of the body, which can be painful and susceptible to infection. Current studies are looking into the expansion of this same cartilage to possible knee surgeries.
Ilario Fulco, Sylvie Miot, Martin D Haug, Andrea Barbero, Anke Wixmerten, Sandra Feliciano, Francine Wolf, Gernot Jundt, Anna Marsano, Jian Farhadi, Michael Heberer, Marcel Jakob, Dirk J Schaefer, Ivan Martin. Engineered autologous cartilage tissue for nasal reconstruction after tumour resection: an observational first-in-human trial. The Lancet, 2014; DOI: 10.1016/S0140-6736(14)60544-4