Scientists make world's first 3D-printed heart with human tissue


"It's completely biocompatible and matches the patient".

In the meantime, printed organs are already being used for training purposes in medical schools and these more complex 3D replicas could prove invaluable in teaching hospitals around the world.

The heart produced by researchers at Tel Aviv University is about the size of a rabbit's and is the first time anyone anywhere has successfully engineered and printed an entire heart with cells, blood vessels, ventricles and chambers.

As simply a "3D printed heart" TAU's is not entirely a first.

Heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States and Israel, and heart transplants are often only afforded to those with end-stage heart failure, but the lengthy wait (up to six months) for a suitable donor can often prove fatal. Heart transplantation is now the only treatment available to patients with end-stage heart failure.

Furthermore, because the heart is made from the patient's own cells, there is a reduced chance that the transplant would fail. The cellular material from the tissues was used as the "ink" for the print job.

Research for the study was conducted jointly by Prof. He was assisted by Nadav Noor, Dr. Assaf Shapira, Reuven Edri, Idan Gal and Lior Wertheim. It should be noted that the heart isn't very big - it's only about the size of a rabbit's heart.

"But larger human hearts require the same technology".

Describing their work in Advanced Science, the research team started by taking biopsies of fatty tissues from abdominal structures known as the omentum in both humans and pigs. The cellular and a-cellular materials of the tissue were then separated. The cells were reprogrammed into pluripotent stem cells, while the extracellular matrix of collagen, sugars and proteins were processed into a personalized hydrogel.

They then mixed the cells and the hydrogel to create so-called "bio-inks" for cardiac patches, which were followed by an entire heart.

As stated in the abstract of the study, "These results demonstrate the potential of the approach for engineering personalized tissues and organs, or for drug screening in an appropriate anatomical structure and patient‐specific biochemical microenvironment". Dvir says. "Ideally, the biomaterial should possess the same biochemical, mechanical and topographical properties of the patient's own tissues". The use of "native" human material was imperative to the successful creation of the tissues and organs, the team said.

Researchers must now teach the printed hearts "to behave" like real ones.

After "training" the hearts to efficiently pump, the team hopes to transplant them into animals for further testing.

3D printed construction of a miniature heart model.

"The cells need to form a pumping ability; they can now contract, but we need them to work together".



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