Scientists make world's first 3D-printed heart with human tissue

17 April, 2019, 10:48 | Author: Denise Dawson
  • A 3D printed small-scaled human heart engineered from the patient’s own materials and cells

However, the print is only 2.5 centimeters in size, about the same size as a rabbit's heart. The team then separated the cellular and a-cellular material and reprogrammed all the cells to become pluripotent stem cells.

This article has been republished from materials provided by Tel Aviv University American Friends. While scientists have advanced various procedures in heart transplantation, the situation for patients in needs remains less than favorable on two grounds: the finding of a suitable donor is hard and the bodies acceptance of this foreign entity is not without risk of fatal rejection of the immune system.

The impact: Heart disease causes one in four deaths in the United States (about 610,000 people a year), and there's a shortage of heart donors for transplants, so 3D-printed hearts could help solve a major issue.

The heart produced by researchers at Tel Aviv University is about the size of a rabbit's.

With that said, while the heart is now too small for a human as it's more appropriately sized for a rabbit, the process used to create it shows a potential for one day being able to 3D print patches and maybe full transplants. "Here, we can report a simple approach to 3D-print thick, vascularized and perfusable cardiac tissues that completely match the immunological, cellular, biochemical and anatomical properties of the patient".

Research for the study was conducted jointly by Prof Dvir, Dr Assaf Shapira of TAU's Faculty of Life Sciences and Nadav Moor, a doctoral student in Prof Dvir's lab. The study said that this allowed the "ink" to print out various cardiac patches or complex tissues structures that can be formed together to create a 3D heart. "The resulting autologous engineered tissue can be transplanted back into the patient, to fix or replace injured/diseased organs with low risk of rejection".

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A team of Israeli researchers has "printed" the world's first 3-D vascularised, engineered heart.

A 3D network of extracellular macromolecules including collagen and glycoproteins was processed into a hydrogel that served as the printing "ink". Dvir says. "Ideally, the biomaterial should possess the same biochemical, mechanical and topographical properties of the patient's own tissues".

Although the hearts may never be as sophisticated as a human's own heart, Dvir says that "perhaps by printing patches, we can improve or take out diseased areas in the heart and replace them with something that works". Then they plan to transplant them into animal models, hopefully in about a year, said Dvir.

Dvir's team said larger hearts could be developed using this same process.

While 3D heart printing may not be available for some time in your local hospital, the team hopes to test their work on rats in the coming years.

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