Tiny 3D printed human heart created by scientists in transplant breakthrough

16 April, 2019, 04:48 | Author: Kara Nash
  • Israeli professor Tal Dvir presents a 3D print of heart with human tissue at the University of Tel Aviv on 15 April 2019

Professor Tal Dvir, who led the project, conceded that scientists had 3D-printed the structure of a heart in the past, but this is the first time anyone has engineered an entire heart with cells, ventricles, chambers, and blood vessels.

University of Tel Aviv's Tal Dvir presents his team's 3D-printed heart.

Heart disease is the leading cause of death in the U.S. and Israel, and heart transplants are often only afforded to those with end-stage heart failure, but the lengthy wait (up to six months) for a suitable donor can often prove fatal. For patients with late stage heart failure, a heart transplant is the only solution. The cellular material from the tissues was used as the "ink" for the print job.

"People have managed to 3D-print the structure of a heart in the past, but not with cells or with blood vessels", he said. Personalized organs would be more easily accepted by the body. He was assisted by Nadav Noor, Dr. Assaf Shapira, Reuven Edri, Idan Gal and Lior Wertheim.

"But larger human hearts require the same technology", Dvir said.

Building a new heart started with a biopsy of a patient's fatty tissue, which was then separated into cellular and acellular material. That allowed researchers to create complex tissue models including cardiac patches and eventually an entire heart.


"The biocompatibility of engineered materials is crucial to eliminating the risk of implant rejection, which jeopardizes the success of such treatments", said Dvir. Dvir says. "Ideally, the biomaterial should possess the same biochemical, mechanical and topographical properties of the patient's own tissues".

Researchers at Tel Aviv University printed the tiny vascularized heart in about three hours using cells and biological material from a patient.

While the 2.5 centimeter-sized heart is too small for a human, the researchers believe it puts them a step closer to creating personalized organs for those in need of a transplant.

3D printed construction of a miniature heart model. The cells are now able to contract, but do not yet have the ability to pump. Our hope is that we will succeed and prove our method's efficacy and usefulness.

"Maybe, in ten years, there will be organ printers in the finest hospitals around the world, and these procedures will be conducted routinely", Dvir said in a press release published by Tel Aviv University. Given the number of patients suffering from CHF each year, and its high healthcare costs, the study's researchers were determined to "develop new approaches to regenerate the infarcted heart". Note: material may have been edited for length and content.

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