Researchers build 3D-printed heart out of patient's donor cells

Maricruz Casares
Abril 16, 2019

While it's not clear a printer can produce hearts that are superior to human ones, "perhaps by printing patches we can improve or take out diseased areas in the heart and replace them with something that works" perfectly, he said.

But he said hospitals would likely start with simpler organs than hearts. The award winning Lewis Lab at Harvard University also targeted the heart with its chip-based approach. Neither of these developments however are biological in their approach.

The heart is believed to the be the first ever to have been printed with cells, blood vessels and chambers.

"This heart is made from human cells and patient-specific biological materials".

Furthermore, the cherry-sized hearts don't necessarily behave like hearts, requiring researchers to further develop and "train" them to be like human hearts and form a pumping ability. "In our process these materials serve as the bioinks, substances made of sugars and proteins that can be used for 3D printing of complex tissue models", Dvir said. TAU's volumetric 3D bioprinting process and other sample structures fabricated with the technique. The team then made the extracellular matrix - made up of collagen and glycoproteins - into a hydrogel used as the printing "ink".

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Throughout the paper, several different bioink formulations are tried for the 3D bioprinting of cardiac structures. Cells were mixed with the hydrogel and then differentiated into cardiac or endothelial cells (those that line the interior surface of blood and lymphatic vessels) to create patient-specific, immune-compatible cardiac patches complete with blood vessels and, ultimately, an entire heart bioengineered from "native" patient-specific materials. In the diagram below, (i) shows the CMs illuminated in pink and the CMs in orange.

3D printed construction of a miniature heart model.

The tiny organ, now only the size of a cherry, was engineered from the tissue of patients which was use to create a bio-ink.

To make sure the heart's shape matched up with the anatomy of the patient, CT scans were used to gather a basic blueprint of the organ, including the orientation of the major blood vessels in the left ventricle. In Conclusions, the TAU researchers maintain that there is still much work to be done.

Dr. Assaf Shapira watches a 3D printer print what Israeli scientist Professor Tal Dvir says is the world's first 3D-printed vascularized engineered heart, at a laboratory in Tel Aviv University in Tel Aviv, Israel, on April 15, 2019. They hope this will happen in one or two years. The technology has developed to include 3D prints of everything from homes to guns.

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