For the first time in medical history, researchers have printed a functional 3D heart using biological cells from the human body. The latest development in the field of regenerative medicine comes from a team of Israeli researchers who were able to “print” the world’s first vascularized engineered heart by using human cells and biological materials as the “bioink” for the 3D printer. Check out the details about this interesting development.
Researchers 3D-Print a Functional Human Heart
A team of researchers at the Tel Aviv University (TAU) in Israel recently revealed the first three-dimensional vascularized engineered heart via an official research paper in the Advanced Science journal. Although medical researchers have printed simple tissues without blood vessels, the TAU researchers were able to engineer a heart, complete with cells, blood vessels, and other functional elements.
“This is the first time anyone anywhere has successfully engineered and printed an entire heart replete with cells, blood vessels, ventricles and chambers,” Professor Tal Dvir, the head of the research study and a professor at TAU’s School of Molecular Cell Biology and Biotechnology, said in a statement.
Coming to the process of “printing” the heart, it was done by taking fatty tissues from patients and separating their cellular and a-cellular parts. The retrieved cells were reprogrammed to become pluripotent stem cells, which are capable of developing into a variety of cell types to grow a functional heart. The non-cellular materials like the glycoproteins and collagen, on the other hand, were turned into a “bioink” for the printer. By combining these materials together, the researchers were able to print complex tissues like cardiac patches that contributed to the creation of an artificial human heart.
While this is an important and noteworthy feat, you should know that there’s still a lot to achieve. For instance, this heart is really small and researchers have to further nurture the “printed” hearts in the lab, “teaching them to behave” like human hearts. They will also transplant the 3D-printed hearts into animal models to test their capabilities.
Prof. Dvir believes that the finest hospitals around the world will have organ printers to support transplants without donations in the next decade. This way, patients will not have to rely on donors in case any of their internal organs fail to function. So, what do you think about the world’s first 3D printed heart? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.
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