World’s 1st 3D-printed heart with ‘cells, blood vessels’ unveiled in Israel

Leslie Hanson
April 16, 2019

"The method we have developed will allow us in the future to print a heart of any size required from the human tissue of patients themselves, meaning that the body will not reject it", Dvir said. A team of researchers at Tel Aviv University in Israel has brought that goal closer to a reality.

The personalized, 3D-printed heart at TAU is sized for a rabbit but the researchers are confident the results would be replicable for human trials using the same technology and process, once they can overcome some technical challenges: Current generation 3D printers are limited in resolution so printing all of the critical, finer blood vessels is yet to be overcome.

Although the organ is only the size of a cherry and can not pump blood, experts said its creating is a "major medical breakthrough". But the latest feat is the first time scientists have created a complex organ with biological materials.

"This is the first time anyone anywhere has successfully engineered and printed an entire heart replete with cells, blood vessels, ventricles and chambers", lead researcher Tal Dvir of the TAU School of Molecular Cell Biology and Biotechnology said in a release.

The proof-of-concept feat could pave the way for a new type of organ transplant. Heart transplantation is now the only treatment available to patients with end-stage heart failure. But there is a lack of heart donors. The non-cellular materials were turned into a gel that served as the bio-ink for printing, Dvir explained. The printed hearts could be tested on animals but there's no timetable for testing hearts on humans, he said.

But CT scans can't provide images of the smaller blood vessels crisscrossing heart tissue-there, in order to make sure the entire patch receives enough oxygen, mathematical models were used to create a more-complete vasculature, calculated based on the laws of oxygen consumption and equations for optimal distribution. The breakthrough was reported Monday in a paper in Advanced Science.

Researchers took fatty tissue from a patient, then separated it into cellular and non-cellular components. Scientists mixed the differentiated cells to form bioinks, which were layered onto scaffolding using a specialized 3D printer to form a small heart.

"The biocompatibility of engineered materials is crucial to eliminating the risk of implant rejection, which jeopardizes the success of such treatments", Prof. "It's completely biocompatible and matches the patient". The use of "native" human material was imperative to the successful creation of the tissues and organs, the team said.

Other reports by Iphone Fresh

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