Scientists grow cartilage to reconstruct nose

Made from a probe of the nasal septum: white, glossy cartilage was made in the laboratory. Credit: Department of Biomedicine at the University of Basel

Scientists at the University of Basel report first ever successful nose reconstruction surgery using cartilage grown in the laboratory. Cartilage cells were extracted from the patient's nasal septum, multiplied and expanded onto a collagen membrane. The so-called engineered cartilage was then shaped according to the defect and implanted. The results will be published in the current edition of the academic journal The Lancet.

A research team from the University of Basel in Switzerland has reported that nasal reconstruction using engineered cartilage is possible. They used a method called where cartilage is grown from patients' own cells. This new technique was applied on five patients, aged 76 to 88 years, with severe defects on their nose after skin cancer surgery. One year after the reconstruction, all five patients were satisfied with their ability to breathe as well as with the cosmetic appearance of their nose. None of them reported any side effects.

Cells from the nasal septum

The type of non-melanoma investigated in this study is most common on the nose, specifically the alar wing of the nose, because of its cumulative exposure to sunlight. To remove the tumor completely, surgeons often have to cut away parts of cartilage as well. Usually, grafts for reconstruction are taken from the nasal septum, the ear or the ribs and used to functionally reconstruct the nose. However, this procedure is very invasive, painful and can, due to the additional surgery, lead to complications at the site of the excision.

Together with colleagues from the University Hospital, the research team from the Department of Biomedicine at the University of Basel has now developed an alternative approach using engineered grown from cells of the patients' . They extracted a small biopsy, isolated the (chondrocytes) and multiplied them. The expanded cells were seeded onto a collagen membrane and cultured for two additional weeks, generating cartilage 40 times the size of the original biopsy. The engineered grafts were then shaped according to the defect on the nostril and implanted.

New possibilities for facial reconstruction

According to Ivan Martin, Professor for Tissue Engineering at the Department of Biomedicine at the University and University Hospital of Basel, "The engineered cartilage had clinical results comparable to the current standard surgery. This new technique could help the body to accept the new tissue better and to improve the stability and functionality of the nostril. Our success is based on the long-standing, effective integration in Basel between our experimental group at the Department of Biomedicine and the surgical disciplines at the University Hospital. The method opens the way to using engineered cartilage for more challenging reconstructions in facial surgery such as the complete , eyelid or ear."

The same engineered grafts are currently being tested in a parallel study for articular repair in the knee. Despite the optimistic perspectives, the use of these procedures in the clinical practice is still rather distant. "We need rigorous assessment of efficacy on larger cohorts of patients and the development of business models and manufacturing paradigms that will guarantee cost-effectiveness", says Martin.

More information: 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.

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Chinese doctor builds new nose on man's forehead

Sep 28, 2013

A surgeon in China says he has constructed an extra nose out of a man's rib cartilage and implanted it under the skin of his forehead to prepare for a transplant in probably the first operation of its kind.

Repairing the nose after skin cancer in just one step

Mar 12, 2013

The skin cancer growing on Carolyn Bohlmann's nose was not a very aggressive variety. But it was deep and located right on her nostril. The tricky part was not so much removing it – MOHS surgery, the procedure ...

Recommended for you

Mutation may cause early loss of sperm supply

15 minutes ago

Brown University biologists have determined how the loss of a gene in male mice results in the premature exhaustion of their fertility. Their fundamental new insights into the complex process of sperm generation ...

No more bleeding for 'iron overload' patients?

2 hours ago

Hemochromatosis (HH) is the most common genetic disorder in the western world, and yet is barely known. Only in the US 1 in 9 people carry the mutation (although not necessarily the disease).

3-D printing offers innovative method to deliver medication

7 hours ago

3-D printing could become a powerful tool in customizing interventional radiology treatments to individual patient needs, with clinicians having the ability to construct devices to a specific size and shape. That's according ...

Mystery of the reverse-wired eyeball solved

Feb 27, 2015

From a practical standpoint, the wiring of the human eye - a product of our evolutionary baggage - doesn't make a lot of sense. In vertebrates, photoreceptors are located behind the neurons in the back of the eye - resulting ...

Neurons controlling appetite made from skin cells

Feb 27, 2015

Researchers have for the first time successfully converted adult human skin cells into neurons of the type that regulate appetite, providing a patient-specific model for studying the neurophysiology of weight ...

User comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.