The research could serve as a major breakthrough for people waiting for heart transplants and other medical procedures
Spotted: A group of researchers at Tel Aviv University have used a 3D printer to create a cherry-sized heart out of human tissue. While 3D printers have replicated the structure of a heart in the past, this is the first time someone has successfully engineered and printed an entire heart, including cells, blood vessels, ventricles and chambers, according to professor Tal Dvir, who led the project.
The team took a biopsy of fatty tissue cells from the patient. That was turned into “ink” for the 3D printer. The result was a complete heart the size of a cherry. The technology to create a human heart would be the same, the team says. But scientists are still struggling to create enough tissue to print a human-size heart, among other challenges, like teaching the heart how to work. While the cells can contract, they do not yet have the ability to pump.
The plan is to transplant 3D-printed hearts into animals in about a year. “Maybe, in 10 years, there will be organ printers in the finest hospitals around the world, and these procedures will be conducted routinely,” Dvir said.