Apr 15, 2019 11:51 AM EDT
Researchers from Tel Aviv University have made a significant breakthrough in the field of medicine field by printing the first world's 3D vascularised engineered heart with the use of a patient's cells and biological materials. They published their findings in a study in Advanced Science.
Until recently, regenerative medicine scientists, a discipline sited at the crossroad of technology and biology, have been successful in printing only mild tissues without blood vessels.
Prof. Tal Dvir of TAU's School of Molecular Cell Biology and Biotechnology, Department of Materials Science and Engineering, who led the study said that this is the first time anyone anywhere has successfully engineered and printed a whole heart complete with blood vessels, cells, chambers, and ventricles.
The leading cause of death among both men and women is heart disease in the United States. Recently, heart transplantation remains the single treatment available to patients with end-stage heart failure. Due to the dire shortage of heart donors, there is an urgent need to develop new approaches to regenerate the diseased heart.
Prof. Dvir said the heart is made from human cells and patient-specific biological materials. In their process, these materials serve as the bioinks, substances made of sugars and proteins that can be used for 3D printing of complete tissue models. Explaining further, he said that people have managed to 3D-print the structure of a heart in the past, but not with cells or with blood vessels. Thus, their results demonstrate the potential of their approach for engineering personalized tissue and organ replacement in the future.
The researchers took the biopsy of the fatty tissue of the patients for the research. Then, they separated the cellular and a-cellular materials of the tissue. As they programmed the cells to become pluripotent stem cells, the extracellular matrix (ECM), they processed a three-dimensional network of extracellular macromolecules like collagen and glycoproteins into a personalized hydrogel that served as the printing ink.
They differentiated the cell efficiently to cardiac or endothelial cells after they mixed it with the hydrogel to create patient-specific, immune-compatible cardiac patches with blood vessels and as a result, the whole heart.
The next step for the researcher is to culture the printed heart in the lab and teaching them to behave like hearts. Prof. Dvir said that they plan to transplant the 3D-printed heart in animal models.
Prof Dvir concluded that they need to develop the printed heart further. The cells need to form on pumping ability. They need them to work together even though they can currently contract. He hoped that they would succeed and prove the usefulness and efficacy of their method.
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