Monday, 17 June, 2019

Researchers Just 3D Printed The First-Ever Complete Heart Using Human Tissue

15 2019 at the University of Tel Aviv shows a 3D print of heart with human tissue 15 2019 at the University of Tel Aviv shows a 3D print of heart with human tissue
Gustavo Carr | 17 April, 2019, 10:44

With an aim to create functioning organs for transplant, scientists have been working on 3D-printed tissues for years.

The heart the Tel Aviv University team printed in about three hours is too small for humans - about 2.5 centimetres, or the size of a rabbit's heart. While scientists have advanced various procedures in heart transplantation, the situation for patients in needs remains less than favorable on two grounds: the finding of a suitable donor is hard and the bodies acceptance of this foreign entity is not without risk of fatal rejection of the immune system.

The research team revealed in the findings, published in the journal Advanced Science, that they took a biopsy of fatty tissue from patients, reprogramming their cells and processing extracellular molecules into a personalised hydrogel.

Until now, the university said, scientists have been successful in printing only simple tissue without blood vessels. After mixing with the hydrogel, the cells efficiently differentiated into cardiac or endothelial cells to create cardiac patches with blood vessels leading to an entire heart.

The team isn't ready to print a human-sized heart at this time; the heart they have printed is the size of a rabbit's heart. Heart transplantation is oftentimes the only way to improve their quality of life and extend survival. They then separated this into non-cellular and cellular components before reprogramming the cells to become stem cells.

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

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Although the 3D human heart represents a promising step towards transplant engineering, further research is needed.

The researchers are now planning on culturing the printed hearts in the lab and "teaching them to behave" like hearts, Dvir said.

The impact: Heart disease causes one in four deaths in the United States (about 610,000 people a year), and there's a shortage of heart donors for transplants, so 3D-printed hearts could help solve a major issue.

Using the patient's own tissue was important to eliminate the risk of an implant provoking an immune response and being rejected, Dvir said. Our hope is that we will succeed and prove our method's efficacy and usefulness. The model needs to be studied in vivo, meaning in live organisms - through future animal studies - to understand its true biologic impact on the body, particularly in people with cardiovascular disease. He hopes that in the next decade, there will be organ printers in the finest hospitals around the world, and these procedures will be conducted routinely.

But while the current 3D print was a primitive one and only the size of a rabbit's heart, "larger human hearts require the same technology", said Dvir.