It 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 heart patches with blood vessels were then created from the cells and hydrogel, and from here on, the entire heart was created.
Today, if you need a heart transplant, you have to wait for an available and suitable organ from someone else's body, and the organs don't always take. Many patients' bodies reject the transplant, leaving them with life-threatening consequences.
Israeli scientists have created the world's first 3D-printed human heart that was made out of actual human tissues.
While it is true that scientists have succeeded in 3d printing the architecture of the heart, which has included cartilage and the aortal valve tissue, no research team as of yet has effectively generated the porous vascular system through which blood vessels carry out their business and without which an organ will necessarily perish.
Dvir also explained that using the patient's own cells is key to engineering the tissues and organs.
The next step for the researchers is to engineer their creation to behave like a real heart, before transplanting them into animals to test their feasibility. Another challenge is figuring out how to print the tiny capillaries found in the heart.
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The study was inspired by the prevalence of heart disease in both Israel and the U.S. According to data compiled by the CDC, heart disease is the leading cause of death for men and women, accounting for the deaths of more than 600,000 people every year.
Norbert Radacsi, a chemical engineering lecturer at the University of Edinburgh in the United Kingdom, who was not involved in the latest research, described the development as an "amazing breakthrough", but noted that there are still several issues to be addressed. The cells are now able to contract, but do not yet have the ability to pump.
"The biocompatibility of engineered materials is crucial to eliminating the risk of implant rejection, which jeopardizes the success of such treatments", Dvir added. "Maybe, in ten years, there will be organ printers in the finest hospitals around the world, and these procedures will be conducted routinely".
At this stage, the 3-D heart produced at TAU is sized for a rabbit, but the professors said that larger human hearts could be produced using the same technology.
- Researchers in Israel unveiled the world's first 3D printed heart created from a patient's own cells.
Given the dire shortage of heart donors, the need to develop new approaches to regenerate the malfunctioning heart is urgent.