Tag Archives: Wellness

3D Printing a Human Ear

What would it be like to not have ears?

Unfortunately, for patients with microtia, this is no hypothetical. Microtia, or lack of a fully developed ear, is a congenital condition affecting about 1 in every 6-8,000 people.

Spectrum of microtia severity

Some patients have a malformed outer ear. Others have almost no ear tissue at all.

The only treatment is taking cartilage from the rib and fashioning a new ear. This requires multiple painful surgeries and tends to produce an unsatisfying outcome.

But now, an incredible NYC startup called 3D Bio can use the patient’s own ear tissue to 3D print a new ear! The patient’s sample is expanded in a cell culture and printed.

The ear can be attached in a simple outpatient procedure.

This treatment is now in early clinical trials. If it works, it could change medicine forever.

What if we could print new hearts, lungs, or livers? Imagine making a new, functional eye for a blind person.

Such technology could alleviate enormous suffering and greatly expand human life expectancy. And I’m extremely excited about it.

Best of luck to the incredible team at 3D Bio!

More on tech:

How Tech Could Stop Wildfires

Why I Just Invested in Kippo, Where Gamers Find Love

Male Contraception With an Ultrasound Device?

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How We Can Rewrite Our Genetic Blueprint

We may soon be able to edit our own genes using a new technology called CRISPR. It uses a bacteria to change data in the genetic code and could one day cure rare genetic diseases. There is also potential in editing genes to prevent cancer and heart disease.

In the new excellent book Editing Humanity by Kevin Davies, we learn how the technology was developed and how it has been applied and misapplied. CRISPR has cured a patient of sickle cell disease already, but was also used inappropriately to sloppily modify the genes of several babies in China. It’s tool with enormous potential, but that includes potential for abuse.

I am intrigued to see if this tool could one day be used to reverse the DNA errors that come with aging.

As an investor, it struck me that Beam Therapeutics, a company founded by David Liu and Feng Zhang, two of the best scientists in the field, went public at a valuation of only $180 million. If CRISPR doesn’t revolutionize health, perhaps it’s worth zero. But what if it succeeds? It could be the most valuable company in history. Indeed, since this book came out in mid-2020, I see the share price has increased nearly fivefold.

I also think we would benefit greatly from increasing our investment as a society in basic research. I was surprised to learn that the Howard Hughes Medical Institute supports the lab of one of the co-inventors of CRISPR, Jennifer Doudna, at a rate of $1 million per year. While HHMI’s work is outstanding and to be commended, I imagine Doudna could use a lot more than that. What would she do with $10 or $100 million a year? Our government and we as individuals (through crowdfunding) could get it to her and other leading scientists. The benefits we could reap can only be imagined.

Davies’ book is entertaining, readable, and informative throughout. I’d highly recommend it to anyone with an interest in CRISPR, gene editing, or health in general!