A major breakthrough with the potential to revolutionize the future of organ transplant.
Researchers at Tel Aviv University, Israel made a major medical breakthrough by 3D printing a heart using Human tissue. Although it is the size of a rabbit’s heart, scientists believe that in the coming years this can help battle the obstacles, advance the possibilities of transplants and fix the diseased heart.
According to Prof. Tal Dvir of Tel Aviv University’s School of Molecular Cell Biology and Biotechnology “This heart is made from human cells and patient-specific biological materials. This is the first time anyone anywhere has successfully engineered and printed an entire heart replete with cells, blood vessels, ventricles and chambers. In our process human cells and tissues serve as the bio-inks. Substances made of sugars and proteins are used for 3D printing of complex tissue models.”
In the past there have been attempts made to 3D-print the structure of a heart but not with cells and blood vessels, Scientist believe that this breakthrough demonstrates the potential for engineering personalized tissue and organ replacement in the future. With further advancements this might hold the potential to completely eliminate the rejection of organs in the recipients as the organs will be made from their own tissue.
According to a statement by the research team, visually the heart looks real. However, the heart does not have the ability to pump blood yet. The heart’s cells can contract but does not behave in the same manner as a normal heart. In addition to that the scientists have not yet figured out how to expand the cells to a size suitable for humans or recreate tiny blood vessels because current printers are limited in their resolution and power.
The researchers are planning on “teaching them to behave” like hearts, Prof. Dvir says. “In the coming future we plan to transplant the 3D-printed heart in animal models.” He adds “Maybe, in ten years, there will be organ printers in the finest hospitals around the world, and these procedures will be conducted routinely.”