After surgery, a French woman was able to go to a restaurant with her husband for the first time in 10 years.
Russians who read Gogol’s story “The Nose” knew purely theoretically that this part of the body can live its own separate life. But the adventures of the nose of a 51-year-old Frenchwoman are nothing short of amazing. It is worth adding that, unlike the satirical story of the Russian classic, this story is extremely positive and life-affirming.
It all started in 2003 when an unfortunate woman was diagnosed with cancer of the nasal cavity (squamous cell carcinoma). The treatment lasted 10 years, and as a result, in 2013, the poor thing had her own nose removed, as well as the hard part of her palate. She lived for four years without a nose, then they tried to reconstruct her nose from a flap of skin, but it did not take root. As a result, the Frenchwoman herself wore a facial prosthesis for several years, to which she could not get used to. She was terrible, she was afraid to appear in public and practically did not leave the house.
A change for the better began when Agnès Dupré-Bory, one of the main surgeons at the Cancer Institute of the University of Toulouse, met at a medical event a young biologist named Islam Bouabaz-Abdeljalil, who was developing new biosynthetic implants in a small company. The startup had just 12 employees.
In 2021, with the consent of the patient, doctors 3D printed a nose frame with hydroxyapatite, a natural material that is the main mineral component of bones and teeth. The frame of the nose was printed with a very precise technology called stereography, which makes it possible to create pores for the tissues and channels for the blood vessels.
Now it was necessary to grow the blood vessels themselves, they are too small and difficult to print in a laboratory. Therefore, in order to ensure blood supply to the nose, she was attached to the woman’s forearm and covered with a flap of skin.
To create blood flow, the graft was connected to the radial artery of the forearm and two veins. Circulating around the frame, blood populated the pores of the structure with cells, and the printed nose finally “came to life” and acquired human features. For about two months, the nose sprouted on the patient’s arm, and then, during a 6-hour operation, the nose was moved to where it belonged.
Thus, the French woman (her name is not revealed) became the first person in the world to be transplanted with a nose that grew on the basis of a synthetic biomaterial printed with 3D technology.
“When I woke up the next day, I was in complete shock,” the patient told reporters. – It is difficult for ordinary people to understand what it is like to live without a nose. But the nose is the first thing a person pays attention to when meeting. And it’s hard for me to describe what an incredible pleasure it is to feel the smell of fresh coffee again in the morning.
The patient, who spent ten years in seclusion, said that her great wish was to go to a restaurant with her husband again. And surgeons, in turn, hope that the revolutionary technology will be used to grow other bodily implants.