3D printed Human Heart

The first 3D printed heart with human tissue and vessels was unveiled by scientists who hailed it as a ‘major medical breakthrough’ which could pave the way for transplants without donors.

The 3D Printed Heart, currently only the size of a cherry, was engineered from the tissue of patients which was used to create a bio-ink.

The heart produced by researchers at Tel Aviv University is about the size of a rabbit’s and is the first time anyone anywhere has successfully engineered and printed an entire heart with cells, blood vessels, ventricles, and chambers.

worlds-1st-3d-printed-heart-with-cells-blood-vessels-unveiled-in-israel-photos

Researchers must now teach the 3D printed heart to behave like real ones. The cells are currently able to contract but do not yet have the ability to pump.

But they hope to be able to transplant the mini-hearts into animals by next year.

“Maybe, in 10 years, there will be organ printers in the finest hospitals around the world, and these procedures will be conducted routinely,” said Professor Tal Dvir, who led the project.

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There are around 7 million people living with heart and circulatory diseases in the UK and 152,000 will die each year. For many, a heart transplant is the only option but donors are limited and many die on the waiting list.

Even when a donor’s heart is available, the body may reject the organ, and patients must be placed on strong drugs to dampen down their immune system which puts them at risk of infections and complications.

However, the new patches would be grown from the patient themselves. The Israeli team first produced patient-specific cardiac patches, followed by the entire heart.

First 3D printed heart on display

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“Using the patient’s own tissue was important to eliminate the risk of an implant provoking an immune response and being rejected,” said Dr. Dvir.

The team is now looking at how to grow enough human cells so that they can produce a human-sized 3D printed heart. Current 3D printers are also limited by the size of their resolution so scientist is still trying to work out how to create the very small blood vessels.

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