Researchers at Tel Aviv University have produced a living heart that palpitates using human tissue and a 3D printer, in a breakthrough that opens pathways to future transplants, the study center reported.
"This is the first time that a heart has been made with a 3D printer with human tissue from a patient," the director of the research, Professor Tal Dvir, told Efe.
The heart "is complete, alive and throbs" and has been made with "cells and biomaterials that come from the patient itself." We take a small biopsy of the patient's fatty tissue, remove all the cells and separate them from collagen and other biomaterials, reprogramming them so they are stem cells and then we differentiate them so that they are cardiac cells and blood vessel cells, "adds the researcher.
Afterwards, the biomaterials are processed "to convert them into bio-ink, which will allow printing with the cells".
The resulting product, a heart of about 3 centimeters, equivalent to the size of a rat or a rabbit, "is still very basic," says the professor, for whom "the next step is to mature this heart so that it can pump".
At the moment, "the cells can contract, but the whole heart does not pump, we need to develop it more" to achieve an organ that can be transplanted to a human being, considers Dvir.
"The next challenge is to mature these cells and help them to communicate with each other, so that they contract together, we have to teach the cells to behave properly, and then we will have another challenge, to develop a bigger heart, with more cells We have to discover how to create enough cells to produce a human heart, "he reflected.
In addition, when printing complete organs or tissues with significantly larger dimensions and high complexity, the patient's specific hydrogel can not sustain its weight and a different printing strategy is needed.
Dvir hopes that "in ten or fifteen years we will have 3D printers in hospitals, which will provide tissue for patients, perhaps hearts."
The study, which is published today in the international journal Advanced Science, "paves the way to the medicine of the future, in which patients will not have to wait for a transplant or take medication to avoid rejection. printed, fully customized for each patient, "says the university.
Professor Dvir works at the Laboratory for Tissue Engineering and Regenerative Medicine, at the George S.Wise School of Living Sciences, Tel Aviv University, where he researches, among others, nanotechnology strategies for thick cardiac tissue engineering and the manufacture of hybrid fabrics.