S.Africa medics use 3-D printer for middle ear transplant
by Staff Writers
Johannesburg (AFP) March 14, 2019
South African surgeons have successfully performed the world's first transplant of middle-ear bones that uses 3-D printed components, a research university said.
The technique "may be the answer to conductive hearing loss -- a middle ear problem caused by congenital birth defects, infection, trauma or metabolic diseases," Pretoria University said in a statement seen Thursday.
The surgery replaced the hammer, anvil and stirrup -- the smallest bones in the body which make up the middle ear -- with similarly-shaped titanium pieces produced on a 3-D printer.
"3-D technology is allowing us to do things we never thought we could," said University of Pretoria health faculty professor Mashudu Tshifularo.
Tshifularo conducted the surgery on Wednesday on a 35-year-old man at the Steve Biko Academic Hospital in Pretoria.
The patient's middle ear was shattered in a car crash.
"By replacing only the ossicles (bones) that aren't functioning properly, the procedure carries significantly less risk than known prostheses (implants) and their associated surgical procedures," said Tshifularo.
Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi promised to "do everything in our power to assist and mobilise resources... for this far-reaching innovation".
Common foundations of biological and artificial vision
Trieste, Italy (SPX) Mar 13, 2019
"It is known that there are important similarities between the visual system of primates and the artificial neural networks of the latest generation. Our study shows how these similarities exist also with the visual system of rats, whose architecture is undoubtedly more primitive, if compared with the brain of primates, but whose functions and potential still remain largely unexplored". This is the comment by Davide Zoccolan, professor of neuroscience at SISSA, on the research conducted by his group, th ... read more
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