Who Nose—Researchers Engineer Tissue for Implantation

According to a study published in The Lancet, researchers have made new advances in tissue cell engineering leading them to successfully rebuild five noses with cartilage grown in the lab.  A team led by Ivan Martin from University of Basel in Switzerland recruited five patients who underwent surgery to remove non-melanoma skin cancer tumors from their nose.

The nose being a prominent feature of the face is often subject to injury or disease.  In this particular case, the manifestation of non-melanoma skin cancer tumors on the nose requires a very difficult procedure to excise sections of cartilage in order to remove the tumors from the nose.  This type of cancer is most common to the nose as a consequence of continue exposure to sunlight.  Due to the 3-dimensionality of the nose, minor alterations to its structure could potentially result in unwanted ramifications.  Thus, reconstruction of a defect to the nose is highly desirable because it is not easily hidden.  Accordingly, the cartilaginous tissue of the nose provides structure and shape and without it loses its semblance.

Photo Credit: White, glossy cartilage made in the laboratory from a probe of the nasal septum / Department of Biomedicine at the University of Basel

Researchers collected cartilage cells, chondrocytes, from the patient’s own biopsies of their nasal septum and grew new cartilage tissue over the course of a month.  Having harvested the cells from the patient ensured that the patient’s immune system would not tag them as foreign material and induce a response.  Over the month, the cells multiplied and were eventually seeded onto a collagen membrane scaffold to render structure to the newly harvested cells.  In this novel surgery, the cartilage scaffolds were implanted and covered with a skin graft from the forehead.

After one year follow-ups, none of the patients expressed any displeasure with the results or aesthetics.  More importantly, no side effects were reported among the patients.  The implications of this study are huge; now that a viable procedure has been reported using cartilage growing in a lab the focus on lab grown tissues will prove to be safe enough for surgery.

To read the article: click here.

Source:  Fulco, Ilario, et al.  (2014).  “Engineered autologous cartilage tissue for nasal reconstruction after tumour resection: an observational first-in-human trial.”  The Lancet.  DOI: 10.1016/S0140-6736(14)60544-4.

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