A team of researchers in Israel has produced the world’s first 3D print of a heart made with human tissue, calling the feat “a major medical breakthrough.”
The 3D print was realised by scientists at Tel Aviv University, who hope to one day create hearts and patches suitable for human transplant.
“At this stage, our 3D heart is small, the size of a rabbit’s heart,” explained Professor Dvir. “But larger human hearts require the same technology.”
It was the first time an entire human heart with cells and blood vessels had been printed successfully, according to Tal Dvir, who led the project.
“People have managed to 3D-print the structure of a heart in the past, but not with cells or with blood vessels,” he added.
Researchers took a biopsy of fatty tissue from patients, which they used to develop the ink needed for the 3D print.
Using the patient’s tissue reduces the risk of an implant being rejected, Dvir said.
The scientists unveiled their findings on Monday, which were published in the peer-reviewed journal Advanced Science.
They will now focus on developing and teaching the printed hearts to “behave” like hearts, Dvir said.
“The cells need to form a pumping ability. They can currently contract, but we need them to work together,” he added.
“Maybe, in ten years, there will be organ printers in the finest hospitals around the world, and these procedures will be conducted routinely.”