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Researchers have 3D-printed a heart using a patients cells, providing hope that the technique could be used to heal hearts or engineer new ones for transplants.
"This is the first time anyone anywhere has successfully engineered and printed an entire heart replete with cells, blood vessels, ventricles and chambers," Professor Tal Dvir of Tel Aviv Universitys School of Molecular Cell Biology and Biotechnology said in a statement and senior author of the research, published April 15, 2019 in the journal Advanced Science .
The process of printing the heart involved a biopsy of the fatty tissue that surrounds abdominal organs. Researchers separated the cells in the tissue from the rest of the contents, namely the extracellular matrix linking the cells. The cells were reprogrammed to become stem cells with the ability to differentiate into heart cells; the matrix was processed into a personalized hydrogel that served as the printing "ink." The cells and hydrogel were first used to create heart patches with blood vessels and, from there, an entire heart.
"At this stage, our 3D heart is small, the size of a rabbits heart," Dvir said. "But larger human hearts require the same technology." (CNN, April 16, 2019)