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Tiny 3D printed heart fabricated complete with blood vessels
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Scientists print world's first 3D heart using patient's own cells
16 April 2019, 12:44 | Silvia Roy
Dr. Assaf Shpira looks at a 3D print of heart with human tissue at the University of Tel Aviv
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.
The heart, about the size of a rabbit's, marked "the first time anyone anywhere has successfully engineered and printed an entire heart replete with cells, blood vessels, ventricles and chambers", said Tal Dvir, who led the project.
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.
Journalists were shown a 3D print of a heart about the size of a cherry at Tel Aviv University on Monday as the researchers announced their findings, published in the peer-reviewed journal Advanced Science.
Furthermore, because the heart is made from the patient's own cells, there is a reduced chance that the transplant would fail. "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. The paper is co-authored by Nadav Noor, Assaf Shapira, Reuven Edri, Idan Gal, Lior Wertheim and Tal Dvir of Tel Aviv University.
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 cells were then "reprogrammed" to become stem cells, which turned into heart cells.
"The biocompatibility of engineered materials is crucial to eliminating the risk of implant rejection, which jeopardizes the success of such treatments", Dvir said. "Ideally, the biomaterial should possess the same biochemical, mechanical and topographical properties of the patient's own tissues".
The cells are now able to contract, but do not yet have the ability to pump. "Here, we can report a simple approach to 3D-printed thick, vascularized and perfusable cardiac tissues that completely match the immunological, cellular, biochemical and anatomical properties of the patient".
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As simply a "3D printed heart" TAU's is not entirely a first.
While it remains a far way off, scientists hope one day to be able to produce hearts suitable for transplant into humans as well as patches to regenerate defective hearts.
This article has been republished from materials provided by Tel Aviv University American Friends. The technology has developed to include 3D prints of everything from homes to guns. Note: material may have been edited for length and content.
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