Brian Wong is a biomedical engineer who is also a surgeon. A biomedical engineer is a person who can help make hard surgeries easier. Dr. Wong had an idea to make it easier to bend the nose and ear cartilage without causing scars and using the usual cut and sew strategy. The cut and sew strategy is difficult because the areas are hard to see and the tissue is softer than bone but stiffer than muscle, and it doesn’t want to go into a new shape easily. The tissue wants to stay because of the magnetic bonds between the hydrogen and oxygen in water.
Since the cut and sew strategy is hard, they tried Infrared lasers to help bend the tissues but it was too expensive and it killed too many cells because the laser was too hot. Dr. Wong thought that using electric current, he could split the hydrogen molecules in water apart. This is called electrolysis. The electricity turns off the magnetic bonds so that the hydrogen molecules can be split apart, and the cartilage is soft and can be made into a new shape like play doh. When they turn off the electricity, the magnet goes back on and the new shape stays. Electricity works better than the laser because it destroys less cells and it is easier and costs less money. The electricity wasn’t as hot as the laser.
They tested the electrolysis on a dead rabbit. They tried to bend the ear 90 degrees sideways and make it permanent. First Hill and Wong made a 3D model of the rabbit ear in the 90 degree angle position. Then they bent the ear with the electric current to shut off the magnetic bond and held it in place with the 3D mold and then shut off the electric current and the ear stayed there.
The first study was done on dead rabbits, and then they proved it was successful so they tried the same process on a live rabbit. The goal is to do this in larger animals and then if it works ,to try it in humans. They do the research on animals first so that they don’t kill humans if it is not successful.
One thing Dr. Wong thinks this might help is in surgery to correct the shape of kids’ ears or noses so that they don’t get teased. In the future, they might want to use this on eyes. The outer layer called the cornea is almost the same structure as cartilage and made from a web of collagen. They can try to change the shape of the eye so that people can see better. The scientific process that they are using is plan, design, test, collect data, and improve. They use the same process on the eye as they did for the ear and nose. For the eye’ they have only done the test on dead rabbit eyes. They still have to test on live rabbits and then bigger live animals, and then hopefully humans if it is successful. I think this is helpful because it costs less money and it’s quicker. So people that maybe couldn’t afford this surgery before can maybe afford this now.
By Brady 4T