Israeli scientists create world's first 3D-printed heart with human tissue

Israeli scientists create world's first 3D-printed heart with human tissue

Researchers from Tel Aviv University on Monday announced they had printed a 3D vascularised heart made from a patients' own tissue - an achievement that the university touted as a "major medical breakthrough".

At this stage, scientists printed pink and blue 3D rabbit-size hearts, but Professor Tal Dvir of Tel Aviv University, who led the research for the study said that "larger human hearts require the same technology".

But the scientists said many challenges remain before fully working 3D printed hearts will be available for transplant into patients.

The staggering development prompted Israel's Foreign Ministry to react, citing it as yet another exceptional example of Israeli innovation.

The world's first "printed heart" was made with actual human biological material, although only about the size of a rabbit's heart, making it too small for a human, researchers said in the Advanced Science report. The cells were reprogrammed into pluripotent stem cells, while the extracellular matrix of collagen, sugars and proteins were processed into a personalized hydrogel.

Heart disease is the leading cause of death among both men and women in the United States. That allowed researchers to create complex tissue models including cardiac patches and eventually an entire heart. "It's completely biocompatible and matches the patient".

He said that given a dire shortage of heart donors, the need to develop new approaches to regenerate a diseased heart was urgent.

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3D printed construction of a miniature heart model.

The tiny organ, now only the size of a cherry, was engineered from the tissue of patients which was use to create a bio-ink.

The cells need to mature for another month or so and then should be able to beat and contract, Dvir said.

Further, they say, "advanced technologies to precisely print these small‐diameter blood vessels within thick structures should be developed".

"The biocompatibility of engineered materials is crucial to eliminating the risk of implant rejection, which jeopardizes the success of such treatments", Prof. "Ideally, the biomaterial should possess the same biochemical, mechanical and topographical properties of the patient's own tissues".

Before introducing them in organ transplantation, researchers first need to test them on animals and then on humans. Our hope is that we will succeed and prove our method's efficacy and usefulness. The paper is co-authored by Nadav Noor, Assaf Shapira, Reuven Edri, Idan Gal, Lior Wertheim and Tal Dvir of Tel Aviv University.

"Maybe, in 10 years, there will be organ printers in the finest hospitals around the world, and these procedures will be conducted routinely", Dvir said. Note: material may have been edited for length and content.

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