The future plans for heart printing involve testing out the hearts in animal models.
Apparently, this is a first project where the research community has been successful in engineering and printing an entire heart, complete with blood vessels, ventricles, chambers, and cells. The heart patches with blood vessels were then created from the cells and hydrogel, and from here on, the entire heart was created.
The researchers at the University took a biopsy of fatty tissue from a patient that was then used in the development of the "ink" for the 3D print.
For the first time in recorded history, scientists have created a working, vascularized engineered heart using human cells by printing it in 3D.
"These hearts are made from the patient's own materials and own cells", he said. There is more work to do first, however; while the cells of the heart are now able to contract, they do not yet have the ability to pump.
The next step, they said, is to teach the hearts to behave like human hearts. Another challenge is figuring out how to print the tiny capillaries found in the heart.
A 3D print of heart with human tissue. In order for the heart to pump blood efficiently through the body, its cells need to beat in unison - something that the 3D-printed heart hasn't done yet.
However, the printed vascularised and engineered heart is approximately 100 times smaller than a real human heart.
But while the current 3D print was a primitive one and only the size of a rabbit's heart, "larger human hearts require the same technology", said Dvir.
Dr. Dvir remained cautious in his predictions but kept an optimistic atitude: "Maybe, in 10 years, there will be organ printers in the finest hospitals around the world, and these procedures will be conducted routinely, " he said.
The study was inspired by the prevalence of heart disease in both Israel and the U.S. According to data compiled by the CDC, heart disease is the leading cause of death for men and women, accounting for the deaths of more than 600,000 people every year. Though the heart is much smaller than a human's (it's only the size of a rabbit's), and there's still a long way to go until it functions like a normal heart, the proof-of-concept experiment could eventually lead to personalized organs or tissues that could be used in the human body, according to a study published Monday (April 15) in the journal Advanced Science.
And that is still good news that offer a sliver of hope to the patients, considering that heart transplants are the only option for the people who live with heart and circulatory diseases, many of which will die while their names are still on the waiting list.