The Tel Aviv University has created the first 3D printed heart. The researchers created it using the patients’ own cells with few biological materials used in addition. Hence, the immunological, cellular, biochemical and anatomical properties of the patient completely match with the whole organ.
This is a milestone achievement because so far, the outcome was always created with major shortcomings. Earlier various research teams were able to build only the structure of the heart. However, the earlier created hearts did lack the other features of a real heart.
Tal Dvir, a researcher in the team says “The heart is printed using inks which contain carbohydrates and proteins. The specialty of this heart is that it contains human cells and biological materials which are patient specific. Till now various researchers were able to make a heart without cells or blood vessel. However, our team had unveiled a different engineering potential. This will bring about a lot of changes in organ transplantation”.
Both humans and pigs have abdominal structures called Omentum. The team took biopsies of fatty tissues from Omentum. Then they separated cellular materials from the tissues, they refigured it to pluripotent stem cells. This helped the team to create an extracellular matrix., the collagen and glycol proteins in the matrix resulted in converting it into printing ink. The cells were first mixed with hydrogel. Later these were again differentiated into cardiac or endothelial cells.
The heart was stored in a support bath. Post extraction, the team injected red and blue dyes in the left and right ventricles. This revealed hollow chambers and the septum in between them.
Though the achievement is great, the team said that they have to still work on organ transplantation. The team has created a rabbit-sized heart, as the human heart is larger in size. However, the team feels that using the same technology large sized hearts can be created.
Yet in its initial stage, this research can bring changes in the health industry. Heart ailments are on the rise in the US. There are numerous cases where heart transplantation is the only solution. The research can help save the lives of numerous heart patients. Presently heart transplantation involves huge cost. The time factor plays a critical role. Harvesting the heart from donors involve legalities. Besides the harvested organ has to be transplanted into another human body as early as possible. The printed heart will be certainly out of all these shortcomings. Hence, it is easy to save people with end-stage heart failure. Rejection rate would be too low due to improved biological makeup.
For starters, it is very difficult to create a human heart replica. Nearly many billions of cells are required to create it. The outcome might turn out to be very small in size and may not function as a heart. In the present level of research, the cells respond by contracting. The heart is trained to do the pumping functions. However, cell co-ordination has to be improved.
The team is confident that when the created heart is able to pump, transplantation can be done to animals first.