The new nose, the first in the world to be grown from scratch, will look just like the 56-year-old man’s old one – slightly crooked.
UCL [University College London] scientist Professor Alex Seifalian, who is behind the pioneering treatment, said: ‘His nose was a little bit bent to the left and we asked if he wanted it straight but he said no, he wanted it exactly the same.’
The new nose began as a glass mould, based on the original, which was sprayed with a synthetic honeycomb-like material to create a framework for stem cells to cling to.
The mould was then removed and the honey- comb covered with millions of these ‘blank cells’ which, with the right nutrients, can turn into the cartilage of the nose – a process which took place at UCL in a rotating jar called a bioreactor.
Meanwhile, the skin on the man’s arm was gradually stretched by a small balloon placed under the surface and inflated until it was loose enough to accommodate the nose.
Around two months ago, when the framework was ready, it replaced the balloon under the stretched skin.
The new nose is now bulging out of the man’s arm, where it is acquiring networks of nerves and tiny blood vessels, as well as a covering of skin from the arm....
After at least three months there, the nose will be removed and sewn in place on the man’s face in an operation that should not leave any scars. The arm should return to normal, with the skin stitched back together.
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