Medicine

Scientists print world's first 3D heart using patient's own cells

Scientists print world's first 3D heart using patient's own cells

Speaking to The Jerusalem Post, Professor Tal Dvir of TAU's School of Molecular Cell Biology and Biotechnology, explains, "This is the first time anyone anywhere has successfully engineered and printed an entire heart replete with cells, blood vessels, ventricles and chambers". Tal Dvir of TAU, as the new developments look to battle heart disease which is the leading cause of death around the world.

The personalized, 3D-printed heart at TAU is sized for a rabbit but the researchers are confident the results would be replicable for human trials using the same technology and process, once they can overcome some technical challenges: Current generation 3D printers are limited in resolution so printing all of the critical, finer blood vessels is yet to be overcome.

"The cells need to form a pumping ability; they can now contract, but we need them to work together", Dvir explained.

Through the organ-on-a-chip approach, researchers have previously bioprinted heart cells to create miniature, beating masses. As it continues to be redesigned to better reflect human anatomy, scientists are intrigued by the potential for 3D heart printing to become a widespread, life-saving technique in medical centers around the world. Heart disease is the leading cause of death in men and women in the United States, with heart transplants being the only treatment available to those with end-stage heart failure.

First, patient-specific cardiac patches were created followed by the entire heart, the statement said.

He said that given a dire shortage of heart donors, the need to develop new approaches to regenerate a diseased heart was urgent.

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The Tel Aviv team extracted fatty tissue from patients and used this as the "ink" for the 3D printing, a blueprint with which to create tissue models. "Ideally, the biomaterial should possess the same biochemical, mechanical and topographical properties of the patient's own tissues".

"The biocompatibility of engineered materials [was] crucial to eliminate the risks of implant rejection, which jeopardizes the success of such treatments", said Dr. Dvir.

Further, they say, "advanced technologies to precisely print these small‐diameter blood vessels within thick structures should be developed". The printed hearts could be tested on animals but there's no timetable for testing hearts on humans, he said.

They hope in the next 10 years, organ printers will be in hospitals "around the world" and the procedures will be a routine practice.

This article has been republished from materials provided by Tel Aviv University American Friends.