Scientists at the Swansea University in Wales, the UK have launched a pioneering treatment, which uses human cells to eliminate facial scarring.
The University’s 2.5m Pound study will use the cells and plant-based materials to 3D-print nose and ear cartilage, BBC reported.
If successful, it could be used in the future to treat people born without body parts or who have facial scarring because of burns, trauma or cancer.
The project will include scientific studies to determine the ideal combination of cells to grow new cartilage which will lead to human clinical trials for facial reconstruction, the report said.
According to Prof Iain Whitaker, Professor of plastic surgery at Swansea, using printers would also make operations shorter, improving the experience of patients and lowering costs.
He hoped that clinical trials could be held in Swansea in the “next two to five years”.
“I’m hopeful that Wales will be amongst the first in the world for patients to benefit from this technology,” Prof Whitaker was quoted as saying.
Victims of scarring say the development could be life-changing, the report said.
Six-year-old Elizabeth, who lost some of her fingers and an ear, in a fire when she was six months old, said she found the new research “exciting”.
“With a lot of the work they’re doing in this lab, we’re hoping it will benefit children like Elizabeth so they don’t have to deal with the physical and mental impact of scars,” her father Liam was quoted as saying.
“The opportunity to rebuild the confidence of people who have facial and body disfigurements is immense,” added Simon Weston, the lead ambassador for The Scar Free Foundation, who is partly funding the research.
Weston, a war veteran, has scars over 85-90 per cent of his body after a bomb hit the ship he was serving on during the Falkland’s War.
“You can’t change what happens to people but through this research and development, you can change what their future can look like,” he said.