For the first time ever Israeli scientists have created a vascularized human heart that combines human tissue taken from a patient, using a 3D printer. Their findings were published on 15 April in a study in Advanced Science. The engineered heart completely matches the immunological, cellular, biochemical and anatomical properties of the patient.
Until now, the university said, scientists have been successful in printing only simple tissue without blood vessels.
"This is the first time anyone anywhere has successfully engineered and printed an entire heart replete with cells, blood vessels, ventricles and chambers", said team leader Tal Dvir. Professor Tal Dvir is pictured holding the heart, main.
Cardiovascular disease is the world's leading cause of death, according to the World Health Organization, and transplants are now the only option available for patients in the worst cases. Not only does a shortage of donors require the development of new strategies, but creating hearts that jive with a patient's unique biological makeup could prevent the risk of rejection.More news: Bruins outmuscle Maple Leafs to win Game 2
"This heart is made from human cells and patient-specific biological materials", said Dvir, a researcher at the Sagol Center for Regenerative Biotechnology at Tel Aviv University in Israel. The non-cellular materials were turned into a gel that served as the bio-ink for printing, Dvir explained.
The personalized, 3D-printed heart at TAU is sized for a rabbit but the researchers are confident the results would be replicable for human trials using the same technology and process, once they can overcome some technical challenges: Current generation 3D printers are limited in resolution so printing all of the critical, finer blood vessels is yet to be overcome. Personalized organs would be more easily accepted by the body.
Research for the study was conducted jointly by Prof Dvir, Dr Assaf Shapira of TAU's Faculty of Life Sciences and Nadav Moor, a doctoral student in Prof Dvir's lab. Though completely vascularized, it's too small at about the size of a rabbit heart.
The process of creating the heart started with a biopsy of fatty tissue taken from patients. The tissue's cellular materials were separated from those that weren't and reprogrammed to become pluripotent stem cells, "master cells" able to make cells from all three body layers with the potential to produce any cell or tissue in the body.More news: Venezuela ex-spy chief fights extradition from Spain to US
The differentiated cells were then mixed with the bio-inks and were used to 3D-print patient-specific, immune-compatible cardiac patches with blood vessels and, subsequently, an entire heart.
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 biocompatibility of engineered materials is crucial to eliminating the risk of implant rejection, which jeopardizes the success of such treatments", said Dvir.More news: God of War - Thank You