Here's the first 3D-printed heart made from actual human tissue

Ben Davidson
April 16, 2019

Though it is still in the early stages of development, this invention represents a breakthrough for transplant medicine, as it may impact the lives of thousands of patients who await heart transplants for end-stage heart failure each year.

"At this stage, our 3D heart is small, the size of a rabbit's heart", explains Prof.

A 3D printer creates what Israeli scientist Professor Tal Dvir says is the world's first 3D-printed vascularized engineered heart, in a laboratory at Tel Aviv University in Tel Aviv, Israel, on April 15, 2019. Five years ago, Indian plastic surgeons at the Jawaharlal Institute of Postgraduate Medical Education and Research (Jipmer) in Puducherry restored the deformed skull of a three-year-old girl to its original shape with the help of a 3D printer. A team of researchers at Tel Aviv University in Israel has brought that goal closer to a reality. In the past, researchers could manage to print a heart with only simple tissues without vessels, but this time they produced an entire heart, complete with cells, blood vessels, ventricles and chambers.

The cells need to mature for another month or so and then should be able to beat and contract, Dvir said.

Once researchers print a heart that functions as it should, they can start testing their technology on real animal models.

Then the cells were reprogrammed to become pluripotent stem cells, the extracellular matrix that was processed into a personalized hydrogel that served as the ink for the printer that printed the heart. Tal Dvir's laboratory in Tel Aviv University in Tel Aviv, Israel.

As such, CHF patients are frequently in-and-out of the hospital, require life-saving procedures to prevent unsafe heart rhythm, and suffer from a poor quality of life. Heart disease is the leading cause of death in men and women in the USA, with heart transplants being the only treatment available to those with end-stage heart failure. A number of these patients will die while on the on the waiting list.

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When they do benefit, they can fall victim to their bodies rejecting the transplant - a problem the researchers are seeking to overcome.

For the research, a biopsy of fatty tissue was taken from patients, according to a release.

The differentiated cells were then mixed with the bio-inks and were used to 3D-print patient-specific, immune-compatible cardiac patches with blood vessels and, subsequently, an entire heart.

"The biocompatibility of engineered materials is crucial to eliminating the risk of implant rejection, which jeopardizes the success of such treatments", Prof.

The 3D-printing technology is already being used to construct entire houses in just 24 hours, but using the tech to create a human heart was proving hard.

3D printing has opened up possibilities in numerous fields, provoking both promise and controversy.

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