Scientists in Israel have printed the world’s first 3D heart made of human tissue and biological molecules. Using tissues from the patient to make a personalized “ink,” a specialized printer was used to produce a working, pumping human heart complete with blood vessels. Because the engineered heart is made of the patient’s own tissues, transplanting the printed organ should keep the autoimmune system from rejecting the new heart. The groundbreaking technology could potentially provide replacements for any organ in the human body.
Once the cells develop and the heart “learns” to pump blood through the vessels, the 3D-printed heart, which is about the size of a rabbit’s heart, will be transplanted into an animal to test its ability to function as a real heart.
In the past, scientists have printed cartilage and other tissues using the technology, but have not found a way to create the working blood vessels necessary to keep an artificial organ alive and functioning once transplanted into a human body.
The new technology may allow doctors to print other organs and tissues for patients using their own tissues and bring relief to people around the world suffering from a wide variety of diseases. The first printed organs and tissues for actual human use will be simpler: Bladders, ears, blood vessels and windpipes, some of which have already been in implanted in patients.
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