It’s a world first: researchers from the University of Tel Aviv have released a 3D printing of a heart with blood vessels, made from human tissue.
It’s a decisive advance for medicine, and encouraging for people waiting for a transplant. Scientists from the University of Tel Aviv, in Israel, announce they have achieved the feat of creating a whole heart through 3D printing, all using human tissue cells.
For the time being, this heart is only a few centimetres big and is just about the size of a rabbit’s. The idea that we will one day see it transplanted into humans therefore remains utopian, but scientists think they can make it bigger in order to make it operational 'in about ten years from now'.
'It’s the first time that anyone has succeeded in producing and printing an entire heart with cells, blood vessels, ventricles and chambers,' enthuses Tal Dvir, the leader of the project. 'In the past, scientists have succeeded in 3D printing the structure of a heart, but never with cells or blood vessels.'
No problem of rejection
If it ends up being functional, this incredible 3D printed heart would put an end to the waiting time of patients. According to the World Health Organisation,cardiovascular illnesses remain the first cause of death, and transplant is often the only option of possible treatment. But there is a lack of donors, and even in the case of transplant, there is the risk that the organism will reject it. It’s for this reason that this 3D-printed heart is interesting, because it allows the possibility to overcome this problem.
'The biocompatibility of the materials used is crucial in eliminating the risk of transplant rejection, which thwarts the success of this type of treatment', confirms Tal Dvir.
The next challenge that the researchers face is getting this heart to beat like a real one. At the moment the cells are able to contract, but are not yet able to pump.
Check out the video for even more details, as well as a first look at the heart!