Israeli scientists create world's first 3-D heart made from human cells
In a major medical breakthrough, scientists in Israel have created a 3D printed heart with human tissue and vessels which can help advance the possibilities for transplants.
Tel Aviv University announced the research findings in a statement Monday. The researchers at the University took a biopsy of fatty tissue from a patient that was then used in the development of the "ink" for the 3D print. The patient-specific cardiac patches were created first followed by the entire heart, the statement said.
The heart produced by researchers at Tel Aviv University is about the size of a rabbit's and is being hailed as a significant step forward in the field of regenerative medicine.
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Researchers at the University also showed 3D print of the heart to journalists as they announced their findings, published in the journal Advanced Science.
It marked "the first time anyone anywhere has successfully engineered and printed an entire heart replete with cells, blood vessels, ventricles and chambers," Tal Dvir, who led the project told AFP.
He added that using a patient's own tissue is important to eliminate the risk of an implant provoking an immune response and being rejected.
He further conveyed that concern of how to expand the cells to have enough tissue to recreate a human-sized heart still remains.
He also said that people have managed to 3D-print the structure of a heart in the past, but not with cells or with blood vessels.
The scientists have stated that this still remains a far way off, as many challenges persist and need to be addressed before fully functional 3D printed hearts are made available for transplant into patients along with patches to regenerate defective hearts.
Researchers are now looking to teach the printed hearts "to behave" like real ones as the cells currently are able to contract, but do not have the ability to pump yet. After this they plan to transplant these printed hearts into animal models, hopefully in about year, said Dvir.
He added that it may be possible "in the next 10 years that there will be organ printers in the finest hospitals around the world, and these procedures will be conducted routinely."
But, he enunciated that hospitals would likely begin with simpler organs than hearts.
3D printers at present are limited by their resolution size and cannot yet figure out how to print all small blood vessels. Nonetheless, 3D printing has opened up newer possibilities in myriad fields evoking both promise and controversy.
(With inputs from agency)