The first 3D printed heart with blood vessels and Chambers
Researchers at Tel Aviv University used patient cells to 3D print a tiny heart with blood vessels, ventricles, and chambers.
The whole process of 3D printing the heart using the patient's cells took only three hours. However, the size of the printed organ is only 2.5
centimeters, about the same size as a rabbit heart.
Although this heart is too small for a human, it is a revolutionary development, as a full-fledged heart with ventricles, cameras and blood vessels was printed for the first time.
“This heart is made from human cells and patient-specific biological materials,” said team leader Professor Tal Dvir. “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 researchers explain that in previous attempts at 3D printing a heart, there were no blood vessels necessary for functioning, and there were only simple tissues. Because of this breakthrough, researchers believe that 3D-printed hearts may be available for transplants over the next ten years.
Photo: Express AFP • GETTY
To print the heart, the researchers began by taking a patient’s fatty tissue. They then divided it into non-cellular and cellular components, before reprogramming cells into stem cells. The resulting stem cells could then be converted into cardiac cells, and non-cellular components could be used as a bio-ink gel. It took only three hours to print the heart in a small container. Dvir explains that the heart needs about a month before it starts beating.
Once this process is complete, the next step is to test this heart on animals. In the end, the researchers hope that their work will help reduce the need for transplant waiting lists and organ rejection, because the organs printed this way will be made entirely from the patient's own cells.
Although hearts printed in this way may never be as complex in structure as a human’s real heart, Dvir says that “probably by printing individual parts of the organ, we can replace the diseased parts of the heart with them, thereby curing even the most serious