In a major scientific breakthrough, scientists at Tel Aviv University have successfully created a three-dimensional, fully vascularized human heart.
Using a 3-D printer, the researchers have created a bio-medically engineered heart that uses cells and biological materials from a patient.
The 3D heart is modeled on a human patient and replicates the immunological, biochemical, cellular, and anatomical properties of the patient. It is made from human cells and ‘patient-specific- biological materials, says Dr. Tal Dvir, study researcher and professor and Tel Aviv University.
That means the heart has been printed in its full form, with blood vessels, cells, ventricles, and chambers. It is a major development as the previous attempts could only print simple tissues without vessels.
The 3-D printed heart is about the size of a rabbit’s heart. This invention is a harbinger for the transformation of transplant medicine, as it can save the lives of thousands of patients awaiting heart transplants for end-stage heart failure every year.
The process of creating an engineered heart started with a biopsy of fatty tissue obtained from patients. The cellular material was used as the ‘ink’ for the print job, which allowed the creation of complex tissue models including cardiac patches.
Currently, this 3D heart can contract only, but scientists intend to redesign the heart to make it operatable like the real organ. Once that is accomplished, they will try to transplant this heart into animal models.