Israeli researchers have printed a 3-D heart using a patient's own cells, something they say could be used to patch diseased hearts - and possibly, full transplants.
"This is the first time anyone anywhere has successfully engineered and printed an entire heart replete with cells, blood vessels, ventricles and chambers", said team leader Tal Dvir. Tal Dvir of TAU's School of Molecular Cell Biology and Biotechnology, Department of Materials Science and Engineering, Center for Nanoscience and Nanotechnology and Sagol Center for Regenerative Biotechnology, who led the research for the study.
The staggering development prompted Israel's Foreign Ministry to react, citing it as yet another exceptional example of Israeli innovation. Furthermore, the cherry-sized hearts don't necessarily behave like hearts, requiring researchers to further develop and "train" them to be like human hearts and form a pumping ability.
Heart transplantation is often the only treatment available to patients with end-stage heart failure. While the Tel Aviv University (TAU) team's 3D-printed heart doesn't actually work yet, it is the closest anyone has ever come to artificially replicating one of our most complex and vital organs. While they still have some kinks to work out - the heart can contract but not pump out blood - they plan to eventually test out 3D-printed hearts in animal models.
The differentiated cells were then mixed with the bio-inks and were used to 3D-print patient-specific, immune-compatible cardiac patches with blood vessels and, subsequently, an entire heart.
Until now, success has been limited to printing only simple tissues without blood vessels.
Though it's much smaller than a human heart-at only 2.5 centimeters, it's about the size of a rabbit's-the proof-of-concept still contains a fully vascularized structure, complete with its own cells, ventricles and atria.
Cells from a patient's omentum tissue are separated and processed into a personalized thermoresponsive hydrogel. "In fact, this method allows us to print any organ that is required for a transplant and we believe that this method opens the door to future technologies, which will make the need for organ donors completely unnecessary".
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.
"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", he added.
Professor Tal Dvir presents a 3D-printed heart made from human tissue in his laboratory.
Dvir's team said larger hearts could be developed using this same process.
This article has been republished from materials provided by Tel Aviv University American Friends.
"Maybe, in 10 years, there will be organ printers in the finest hospitals around the world, and these procedures will be conducted routinely", he said.
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