Israeli investigators have achieved 3D print a "live" heart from human tissue. A complete organ, with cavities and blood vessels, which will open the door to personalized transplants for each patient, according to researchers Tal Dvir and Assaf Shapira of the George S.Wise School of Sciences, Tel Aviv University. The great advantage of these organs is that they would end the feared rejection, which requires a specific medication to avoid it.
"As far as we know, until now all the hearts that had been printed using this technique came from synthetic materials," explains Professor Dvir. To achieve this, the scientists separated cells from the fat tissue of a patient and through an advanced process of genetic engineering, transformed them into stem cells. Thanks to these cells, the researchers managed to create heart muscle and blood vessels that mixed with liquid composed of biomaterials from the patient. This liquid, used as ink and according to the instructions entered in a computer, allowed them to recreate in the laboratory, in 3D, the human heart artificially.
Medicine of the future for which the images of the heart obtained with tomography have been essential and which have been used as a kind of planes. "This method allows us to print a heart of any size," Professor Shapira said during the presentation in Tel Aviv, in which Israeli scientists printed a nail-sized micro heart. "It is the first time a heart has been achieved. complete with blood vessels, ventricles, atria … Simple tissues and hearts were also printed, but not with cells and natural vessels, "says the project director.
Experts explain that the difficulty in creating an organ of these characteristics the size of an adult lies in the amount of tissue needed and in which there is still teach him to behave like a human heart. The cells of this 3D heart beat but do not beat. They contract but are not yet able to pump, so scientists will still have to introduce modifications in the model to "mature" and their beating behavior resembles the natural. The full study was published on Monday in the specialized magazine Advanced Science and according to the authors, the possibility of realizing the transplant of organs created from the bioprinting of the tissues themselves is a little closer.
But to reach that horizon there is still a long way to go. The researchers estimate that in one or two years they will be ready to take the next step: implant in rats or rabbits this type of heart to study if it works effectively. For the time being, they study their development in the laboratory until the cells become adults and they are sure that they can be implanted successfully.
Another promising application of the project is that of myocardial infarction. The researchers say they will also be able to print what they call "latent cardiac cell patches," which could be used to restore the parts of the heart tissue affected by the infarction.
For Professor Dvir, it is not science fiction to think about a future not too far away in which hospitals are equipped with 3D printers – as is already the case in the field of prostheses and other types of tissue – thanks to which to design a la carte human tissues, organs and all types of biomaterials that patients need. "Within a decade it's likely to be routine procedures," he says.
For years scientists have seen in bioprinting the medicine of the future. Researchers from around the world develop methods to print in 3D complex structures from artificial tissues and cells that allow progress in personalized treatments of different diseases. In 2012, Professor Jonathan Butcher, of Cornell University in the United States, managed to print the first heart valve. An achievement in which they continue working so that one day they can replace the natural ones and that soon will begin to be tested on sheep.
Cardiovascular diseases are the leading cause of death in developed countries. In Spain ahead even of cancer and respiratory diseases.