Israeli researchers have successfully created a heart made from human tissue using a 3D printer.
The groundbreaking feat of engineering from the team at Tel Aviv University has surpassed previous prints of human tissue, which did not include blood vessels.
It’s hoped the technological development could be a major step in the battle against heart disease.
Professor Tal Dvir of TAU’s School of Molecular Cell Biology and Biotechnology, took a lead on the research and said, as per the Jerusalem Post:
This is the first time anyone anywhere has successfully engineered and printed an entire heart replete with cells, blood vessels, ventricles and chambers.
This heart is made from human cells and patient-specific biological materials.
In our process, these materials serve as the bio-inks, substances made of sugars and proteins that can be used for 3D printing of complex tissue models.
The process, as you’d expect, is pretty complicated.
The Jerusalem Post detailed:
For the research, a biopsy of fatty tissue was taken from patients, according to a release. The cellular and a-cellular materials of the tissue were then separated.
The cells were reprogrammed to become pluripotent stem cells that could then be efficiently differentiated into cardiac or endothelial cells. The extracellular matrix (ECM), a three-dimensional network of extracellular macromolecules, such as collagen and glycoproteins, was processed into a personalized hydrogel that served as the printing “ink.”
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 next phase of research will see scientists attempt to make printed hearts behave like a human heart.
Once this has been done successfully, attention will turn to providing working transplants first in animals, and then human patients.
Dvir added of his hopes for the future:
10 years, there will be organ printers in the finest hospitals around the world, and these procedures will be conducted routinely.
What an incredible breakthrough!
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An NCTJ Journalist with an MA in Sports Journalism, Kieron is an experienced social media journalist who has worked in the industry since 2015. His experience includes work with ITN, the MEN, WISH/WIRE/TOWER FM, and 8:50 Sports Digest… not forgetting his time at ASDA.