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Nanoscribe Technology Used for 3D Microscaffold Cochlear Implant

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As a leader in 3D printing and microfabrication, Germany’s Nanoscribe continues to make strides not only in producing new systems and processes, but also in providing the technology and impetus for research and medical scientists to develop innovative devices like the 3D-microscaffold cochlear implant for steroid elution.

Accompanied by a high-precision 3D printed steroid reservoir with a 2D MEMS-based electrode array, the medical device is meant to allow patients to hear better—and by avoiding insertion trauma, preserves what hearing ability they still possess.

While hundreds of millions of people in the world struggle with loss of hearing, cochlear implants can assist individuals suffering from damaged hair cells within the inner ear. For this latest medical development, an international team of bioengineers from the Bio-Microrobotics Laboratory of the Daegu Gyeongbuk Institute of Science and Technology (DGIST) partnered with the Ajou University and Microsystems Lab of the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Lausanne (EPFL), using the Nanoscribe Photonic Professional system to create microstructure scaffolds for the new implant.

“The versatility of 3D Microfabrication enables the materialization of intricate but at the same time extraordinarily precise microscopic parts,” explains the Nanoscribe team in their latest newsletter. “These microcomponents can be designed with shapes and elements that meet the requirements in life sciences, e.g., cell scaffolds, microstents or microneedles. Moreover, the printing materials play a decisive role in the properties of the final 3D printing structures.”

The implant has been proven to improve hearing, as well as preserving residual hearing via micro-reservoirs which deliver continual steroids to the ear. To destroy what limited hearing a patient does have would be a terrible injustice as they are already challenged to adapt to what little auditory strength they have left; however, through avoiding insertion trauma and medicating the inner ears, patients may have a much better chance of success now with cochlear implants. The researchers have recently published the results of their work in ‘A 3D Microscaffold Cochlear Electrode Array for Steroid Elution.’

“Here, a microscaffold cochlear electrode array (MiSCEA) consisting of a microfabricated flexible electrode array and a 3D microscaffold for steroid reservoir is reported. The MiSCEA without loaded drug is tested by measuring the electrically evoked auditory brainstem response of the cochlea in guinea pigs (n = 4). The scaffold is then coated with steroid (dexamethasone) encapsulated in polylactic‐co‐glycolic acid and the continuous release of the steroid into artificial perilymph during six weeks is monitored,” explain the researchers in the abstract for their recent paper.

“The steroid‐containing scaffolds are then implanted into guinea pigs (n = 4) and threshold shifts are analyzed for four weeks by measuring the acoustically evoked auditory brainstem response. The threshold shifts tend to be lower in the group implanted with the steroid-containing MiSCEAs. The feasibility of 3D MiSCEA opens up the development of potential next‐generation cochlear electrode with improved steroid release dynamics into cochlea.”

3D printed microscaffolds mounted onto a 2D MEMS flexible electrode array. Image: Jongmoon Jang, Daegu Gyeongbuk Institute of Science and Technology

Fabrication of impressive and innovative medical devices is one of the most rapidly growing areas of 3D printing, yielding examples like optimized biomedical implants, dental implants, cranial implants, and far more.

What do you think of this news? Let us know your thoughts! Join the discussion of this and other 3D printing topics at 3DPrintBoard.com.

[Source / Images: Nanoscribe]

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