Published: Wed, April 17, 2019
Health Care | By Cedric Leonard

Scientists 3D Print Mini Human Heart Using Patient’s Own Cells

Scientists 3D Print Mini Human Heart Using Patient’s Own Cells

The 3D-printed heart has cells, blood vessels, ventricles, and chambers. However, the print is only 2.5 centimeters in size, about the same size as a rabbit's heart. These tissue samples were experimentally reprogrammed to become "pluripotent" or de-identified stem cells.

Heart disease is the leading cause of death in the USA and Israel, and heart transplants are often only afforded to those with end-stage heart failure, but the lengthy wait (up to six months) for a suitable donor can often prove fatal.

At this stage, the 3D printed heart produced at TAU is sized for a rabbit.

While it is true that scientists have succeeded in 3d printing the architecture of the heart, which has included cartilage and the aortal valve tissue, no research team as of yet has effectively generated the porous vascular system through which blood vessels carry out their business and without which an organ will necessarily perish. "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". It should be noted that the heart isn't very big - it's only about the size of a rabbit's heart. "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". Personalized organs would be more easily accepted by the body.

Though promising, the team is quick to remind us that their hearts are not yet ready for human transplantation.

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To print the heart, the scientists created a "personalized hydrogel" to form "bioinks", according to a paper published today in the journal Advanced Science. The extracellular matrix (a three-dimensional network of extracellular macromolecules such as collagen and glycoproteins) were processed into a personalised hydrogel.

Once they have achieved that, the scientists plan to transplant the hearts into small animals, such as rabbits or rats.

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

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

The next step, they said, is to teach the hearts to organize and interact with each other and achieve pumping ability. They said that an exact version of the heart needed by a transplant recipient could be built. With this achievement, the researchers at Tel Aviv University theorised that organ printers could be available at hospitals as early as within 10 years. According to Dvir, using the patient's own tissue was key, so the risk of an implant being rejected would be eliminated, BBC news noted.

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