Israeli researchers have printed a 3D heart using a patient’s own cells, something they say could be used to patch diseased hearts, and eventually, full transplants. Heart disease is the leading cause of death in Australia.
The heart that was printed in a Tel Aviv University laboratory is approximately the size of a rabbit’s heart and took three hours to print. But Professor Tal Dvir of Tel Aviv University, who led the research for the study said that "larger human hearts require the same technology," Bloomberg reported.
“People have managed to 3D-print the structure of a heart in the past, but not with cells or with blood vessels. Our results demonstrate the potential of our approach for engineering personalised tissue and organ replacement in the future,” he said.
"Maybe, in ten years, there will be organ printers in the finest hospitals around the world, and these procedures will be conducted routinely," Professor Dvir said in a press release published by Tel Aviv University.
It’s the first heart to be printed with all blood vessels, ventricles and chambers, using an ink made from the patient’s own biological materials. The researchers took a biopsy of fatty tissue from patients, using their cells and biological materials as so-called bio-inks, or substances made of sugars and proteins.
According to Dvir, the use of “native” patient-specific materials is crucial to successfully engineering tissues and organs, SBS reported. The next step, they said, is to teach the hearts to behave like human hearts.
He added that given a dire shortage of heart donors, the need to develop new approaches to regenerate a diseased heart was urgent.