"Here, we can report a simple approach to 3D-print thick, vascularized and perfusable cardiac tissues that completely match the immunological, cellular, biochemical and anatomical properties of the patient".
Professor Tal Dvir, who led the project, conceded that scientists had 3D-printed the structure of a heart in the past, but this is the first time anyone has engineered an entire heart with cells, ventricles, chambers, and blood vessels.
Heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States. For patients with late stage heart failure, a heart transplant is the only solution.
Dvir stressed the importance of the heart's being made with a patient's own cells and biological materials in order to eliminate the risk of implant rejection. "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", Prof.
As such, CHF patients are frequently in-and-out of the hospital, require life-saving procedures to prevent risky heart rhythm, and suffer from a poor quality of life.
BREAKING: Israeli scientists have created a real, live heart using human tissue in a revolutionary 3D printing process. Personalized organs would be more easily accepted by the body.
Given the number of patients suffering from CHF each year, and its high healthcare costs, the study's researchers were determined to "develop new approaches to regenerate the infarcted heart". The tissue's cellular materials were separated from those that weren't and reprogrammed to become pluripotent stem cells, "master cells" able to make cells from all three body layers with the potential to produce any cell or tissue in the body. By alternating between the two different inks, the researchers were able to construct patches of heart tissue with blood vessels that are compatible with the patient's immune system.
The researchers are now planning on culturing the printed hearts in the lab and "teaching them to behave" like hearts, Prof.
After "training" the hearts to efficiently pump, the team hopes to transplant them into animals for further testing.
"Maybe, in ten years, there will be organ printers in the finest hospitals around the world, and these procedures will be conducted routinely", said Prof.
3D printing belongs to a class of techniques known as additive manufacturing, or building objects layer by layer. Dvir. "But larger human hearts require the same technology".
The technology has developed to include 3D prints of everything from homes to guns.
But the scientists said many challenges remain before fully working 3D printed hearts would be available for transplant into patients.
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