Israeli genius in service to all mankind: Scientists print world’s first 3D heart
Israeli researchers have printed the world’s first 3-D heart complete with blood vessels using a patient’s own cells, which could be used to patch diseased hearts — and possibly, full transplants.
The heart the Tel Aviv University team printed in about three hours is too small for humans — about 2.5 centimeters, or the size of a rabbit’s heart. But it’s the first to be printed with all blood vessels, ventricles, and chambers, using an ink made from the patient’s own biological materials.
The extraordinary breakthrough was reported Monday by lead scientists Prof. Tal Dvir, Dr. Assaf Shapira of TAU’s Faculty of Life Sciences and Nadav Noor, his doctoral student, in Advanced Science.
“It’s completely biocompatible and matches the patient,” reducing the chances of rejection inside the body, said professor Tal Dvir.
The next stage is to cultivate the rodent-sized heart in the lab, grow and mature it, and teach the artificial – but biological – organ to “behave” like a heart. The stage after that will be to transplant 3D-printed hearts into animals, to test their functionality.
It will probably take years before this technology can create organs for effective transplant if it ever does. Yet the Tel Aviv scientists’ achievement so far is a huge milestone in transplant science: Tissues have been printed before using three-dimensional printing technology, but they lacked the vascularization – blood vessels – essential to usability.
Though the technology is still in its infancy, printed organs are already being used for training purposes in medical schools, and for doctors to plan out complicated surgeries.
Dvir hopes the technology can become mainstream in a decade or so, printing organs and tissues for people using their own tissues as a base.