Jessica Tabinor innovation
INDUSTRY TRENDS | 3 MIN READ
A group of scientists at Tel Aviv University (TAU) in Israel have created the world’s first 3D printed heart using a patient’s own cells.
This breakthrough research could have major implications for cardiology.
The research team are now planning to teach the 3D printed organs to behave like a human heart.
A group of scientists at Tel Aviv University (TAU) in Israel have created the world’s first 3D printed heart using a patient’s own cells. The heart contains blood vessels, cells and chambers using the patients’ own biological material.
This breakthrough research could have major implications for cardiology, with heart disease one of the leading causes of death worldwide.
Although heart structures have been 3D printed in the past, they have not contained the biological intricacy of the Tel Aviv organ, which is around the size of a rabbit’s heart.
Prof Tal Dvir, research lead at TAU’s School of Molecular Cell Biology and Biotechnology, Department of Materials Science and Engineering said:
“This is the first time anyone anywhere has successfully engineered and printed an entire heart replete with cells, blood vessels, ventricles and chambers,”
In order to make the heart, a biopsy of fatty tissue was taken from patients and the cellular and a-cellular materials of the tissue were then separated. While the cells were reprogrammed to become pluripotent stem cells, the extracellular matrix (ECM), a three-dimensional network of extracellular macromolecules such as collagen and glycoproteins, were processed into a personalised hydrogel that served as the biological ink.After being mixed with the hydrogel, the cells were efficiently differentiated to cardiac or endothelial cells to create patient-specific, immune-compatible cardiac patches with blood vessels and, subsequently, an entire heart.
Prof Dvir added:
“This heart is made from human cells and patient-specific biological materials. In our process, these materials serve as the bioinks, substances made of sugars and proteins that can be used for 3D printing of complex tissue models.”
“Our results demonstrate the potential of our approach for engineering personalised tissue and organ replacement in the future.”
The research team are now planning to teach the 3D printed organs to behave like hearts, then test their functionality in animals.
“We need to develop the printed heart further,” Prof Dvir said. “The cells need to form a pumping ability; they can currently contract, but we need them to work together. Our hope is that we will succeed and prove our method’s efficacy and usefulness.
“Maybe, in ten years, there will be organ printers in the finest hospitals around the world, and these procedures will be conducted routinely.”