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Shot Through The Heart

Israeli Researchers 3D Print Tiny Heart with Blood Vessels and Chambers

Picture of Hanna Watkin
by Hanna Watkin
Apr 16, 2019

Researchers from Tel Aviv University used a patient's cells to 3D print a heart with blood vessels, ventricles and chambers that is the size of a rabbit's heart. 

Researchers from Tel Aviv University have 3D printed a heart using a patient’s cells in just three hours. However, the print is only 2.5 centimeters in size, about the same size as a rabbit’s heart.

Although this heart is too small for a human, it’s an exciting development because it marks the first time a heart has been printed with ventricles, chambers and blood vessels.

The researchers’ work was published in a paper in the journal Advanced Science.

“This heart is made from human cells and patient-specific biological materials,” said team leader Professor Tal Dvir to the Express. “In our process, these materials serve as the bio-inks, substances made of sugars and proteins that can be used for 3D printing of complex tissue models.”

The researchers explain that previous attempts to 3D print a heart have lacked the blood vessels needed to function and were only simple tissues. Due to this breakthrough, the researchers believe that 3D printed hearts could be available for transplant within the next ten years.

Tel Aviv University
This 3D printed heart may be tiny but it’s a huge breakthrough (Source: Express AFP • GETTY)

3D Printing a Heart – Blood Vessels, Ventricles and All

In order to print the heart, the researchers started by taking fatty tissue from a patient. They then separated this into non-cellular and cellular components before reprogramming the cells to become stem cells.

The resulting stem cells could then be turned into heart cells and the non-cellular components were used as a bio-ink gel. It took just three hours to print the heart into a small container. The resulting small print will take around a month to mature before it can beat, explains Dvir.

Once this process is complete, the next step is to test the prints on animals. Eventually, the researchers hope their work will help in reducing the need for transplant waiting lists and organ rejections because the print would be fully personalized and made from the patient’s own cells.

Although the hearts may never be as sophisticated as a human’s own heart, Dvir says that “perhaps by printing patches, we can improve or take out diseased areas in the heart and replace them with something that works.”

For more on medical innovations using 3D printing, check out these stories:

Source: Bloomberg

Tel Aviv University
3D printing a tiny heart in three hours (Source: Express AFP • GETTY)

License: The text of "Israeli Researchers 3D Print Tiny Heart with Blood Vessels and Chambers" by All3DP is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

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