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Artist creates a living copy of Vincent Van Gogh's ear with relative's DNA

•, By Lakshmi Sandhana
Dutch artist Diemut Strebe has grown a living replica of the ear that Vincent Van Gogh reportedly sliced off in a troubled episode, using genetic material from one of Van Gogh's direct descendants. With a lifespan of 80 years or more, the ear could live as long as any one of us, says Strebe, who is investigating the idea of replicating people from historical DNA.

"The ear is grown with Lieuwe van Gogh's cells," Strebe tells Gizmag. "By his natural relationship to Vincent, he carries in his cells the white chromosomes of Vincent and a 16th of his genome."

Strebe figured out the shape of the ear by looking at a historical photo of the artist, and extrapolated the measurements to create a 3D-printed mold that approximated its shape. A scaffold placed in the mold was seeded with Van Gogh's cells, which grew until the ear reached its final form. The result, states Strebe, is a true living piece.

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