Jan. 31, 2018 -- New ears for five children were grown using a combination of 3-D printing and cultured cells, scientists in China say.
The first-of-its-kind study included children with a defect in one ear called microtia, which affects the shape and function of the ear, CNN reported.
The research was published in the journal EBioMedicine.
"We were able to successfully design, fabricate, and regenerate patient-specific external ears," wrote the researchers, who followed each child for up to 2 1/2 years, CNN reported.
"Nevertheless, further efforts remain necessary to eventually translate this prototype work into routine clinical practices," they added. "In the future, long-term (up to 5 years) follow-up of the cartilage properties and clinical outcomes ... will be essential."