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University of Southern Queensland students all ears during futuristic biomedical course

Growing body parts in a laboratory might seem like something from the pages of Frankenstein, but it’s all in a day’s work for students at the University of Southern Queensland.

Third-year Biomedical Science students have been given the chance to grow ears, noses, heart valves and bone fragments as part of the University’s course Applications in Human Tissue Engineering.

 A fusion of molecular biology and 3D printing, the course requires students to add human cells to a bioscaffold replica of their chosen body part and use growth factors to promote its development.

University of Southern Queensland Biomedical Sciences Associate Professor Eliza Whiteside said tissue engineering was a relatively new approach in regenerative medicine with significant future potential.

“Although the technique is not yet in the mainstream, we are helping to future proof our students who are looking at a career in research or medicine,” Associate Professor Eliza Whiteside said.

“The students have all selected a body part they can replace using tissue engineering, so some have chosen part of the skull, which can be replaced if there has been a fracture to the head, others have chosen little ears and little noses as sometimes these parts can be damaged by skin cancer or trauma.

“We teach the students advanced molecular and cell-biology techniques for this course, so focusing on the use of these skills in the regenerative medicine space provides a really exciting and personalised narrative and could be useful in their future workplaces.”

Having recently finished a placement at a cardiology clinic, student Felice Ford chose to work on a replica mitral valve, a part of the heart susceptible to defects.

“This course is really interesting – it has allowed us to apply a lot of things we've learned in previous courses and gives us some hands-on experience,” Ms Ford said.

“The work we are doing today feels very current and the procedures we’re using can be applied to many areas.

“It could also make the process so much easier in the future - instead of having to get a transplant from another human or an animal, you could make it in a lab.”

The University of Southern Queensland’s Bachelor of Biomedical Sciences aims to provide education and training for a career in biotechnology or medical research. It is also the perfect stepping stone for students wanting to undertake the Graduate Medical School Admissions Test (GAMSAT).

Find out more about studying Biomedical Sciences.

 

Third-year Biomedical Science student Bridgett Marquart holds up a dish containing her bioscaffold.
Third-year Biomedical Science student Bridgett Marquart holds up a dish containing her bioscaffold.