First' 3D print of heart with human tissue, vessels unveiled
TEL AVIV - AFP
While it remains a far way off, scientists hope one day to be able to produce hearts suitable for transplant into humans as well as patches to regenerate defective hearts.
It marked "the first time anyone anywhere has successfully engineered and printed an entire heart replete with cells, blood vessels, ventricles and chambers," said Tal Dvir, who led the project.
But the scientists said many challenges remain before fully working 3D printed hearts will be available for transplant into patients.
Researchers must now teach the printed hearts "to behave" like real ones. The cells are currently able to contract, but do not yet have the ability to pump.
Then they plan to transplant them into animal models, hopefully in about a year, said Dvir.
"Maybe, in 10 years, there will be organ printers in the finest hospitals around the world, and these procedures will be conducted routinely," he said.
But he said hospitals would likely start with simpler organs than hearts.
First, patient-specific cardiac patches were created followed by the entire heart, the statement said.
Using the patient's own tissue is important to eliminate the risk of an implant provoking an immune response and being rejected, Dvir said.
Challenges that remain include how to expand the cells to have enough tissue to recreate a human-sized heart, he said.
3D printing has opened up possibilities in numerous fields, provoking both promise and controversy.
The technology has developed to include 3D prints of everything from homes to guns.