Researchers from the Tel Aviv University, Israel have printed the world’s first 3D vascularised engineered heart using a patient’s own cells and biological materials.
Why this is significant?
The 3D Heart was made from human cells and patient-specific biological materials. During the process, the patient-specific biological materials served as the bio-inks (substances made of sugars and proteins that can be used for 3D printing of complex tissue models).
Even though people had managed to 3D-print the structure of a heart in the past, but those attempts were not with cells or with blood vessels. The heart produced by researchers is about the size of a rabbit’s.
Even though many challenges remain before fully working 3D printed hearts would be available for transplant into patients. This successful demonstration underlines the potential for engineering personalized tissue and organ replacement in the future.
The challenge now before the researchers is to teach the printed hearts “to behave” like real ones. The cells are currently able to contract but do not yet have the ability to pump. Then they can undertake transplantation into animal models. When successful, there will be organ printers in the finest hospitals around the world, and these procedures will be conducted routinely.