Functional 3D Printed Heart Tissue Could Ease Organ Donor Shortage
Scientists at Harvard University have developed a new technique that uses living human cells to 3D print functional heart tissue for an artificial heart, according to NBC.
The long waiting list and lack of donors for organ transports have led researchers to explore alternative ways to save lives.
Now, scientists at Harvard’s Wyss Institute say they are one step closer to that reality. In lab experiments, they have developed a new technique that uses living human cells to “print” functional heart tissue for an artificial heart — an innovation that could save thousands of lives.
Unlike prior efforts, the new lab-grown heart tissue beats just like a normal human heart and comes equipped with the blood vessels it will need to survive once it is transplanted into a patient.
The technique has yet to be tested, but if it proves successful, it could be used to 3D print other crucial organs that are needed.
If the SWIFT technique proves successful in hearts and other organs, it could end the deadly shortage of donor organs. In the United States, there are currently more than 120,000 people waiting for donor organs to become available. On average, 20 people die each day while waiting, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
So far, the heart tissue has beat continuously for one week.
In the United States, there are currently more than 120,000 people waiting for organ donations to become available. On average, around 20 people die on each day while waiting for an organ to become available.