According to Bloomberg, Israeli researchers have printed a 3D heart using a patient’s own cells. This new technology could potentially be used to patch diseased hearts, or they could be used for transplants.
The heart printed by the Tel Aviv University researchers is about the size of a rabbit’s heart. Although it is too small to be used by humans, it is the first heart to be printed with all of the necessary blood vessels, ventricles, and chambers. The ink used in the heart was made from the biological materials of the patient.
“It’s completely biocompatible and matches the patient,” reducing the chances of rejection inside the body, said Tal Dvir, who directed the project.
Fatty tissue was removed from the patient and then separated into cellular and noncellular components. Then, the cells were “reprogrammed” to be stem cells, which became heart cells. The noncellular materials became a gel that was used as the bio-ink.
In the past, only simple tissues without necessary blood vessels had been printed.
“Patients will no longer have to wait for transplants or take medications to prevent their rejection,” a press release said. “Instead, the needed organs will be printed, fully personalized for every patient.”
Although it is unclear if the printer will be able to print hearts superior to human hearts, “perhaps by printing patches we can improve or take out diseased areas in the heart and replace them with something that works” perfectly, Dvir said.
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