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A New Breakthrough In 3D Bioprinting, The Birth Of The First 3D Printed Heart

Jul 20, 2019

Recently, researchers at the University of Tel Aviv in Israel used human tissue to create the world's first 3D printed heart, bringing new hope to patients with advanced heart failure who need to “change heart” to continue their lives.

human heart

Since the first successful kidney and heart transplant surgery around the 1960s, the clinical technology of organ transplantation has improved day by day, and the success rate of surgery has been increasing. However, in many countries, the number of organ waiters and donors varies widely. Even if you are fortunate enough to wait for the right organ and successfully transplant, the postoperative rejection will still pose a threat to the patient's life. Over the years, the complete "replication" of organs has become the dream of the medical profession.


In 2010, the world's first bio-printer used cultured human cells to create the first blood vessels, making 3D printing of human organs possible. In 2013, a cardiologist completed the first 3D printed “heart”, which not only looks like the patient's heart, but also beats. However, this "heart" made of plastic can only be used to study surgical procedures. Rather, it's just a "heart model."

3D printing heart

The newly printed 3D heart has not only cells, ventricles and atrium, but also criss-crossing blood vessels. The "ink" used in this printing is derived from the adipose tissue extracted from the patient. Among them, the isolated cells become edited pluripotent stem cells, and then differentiate into cardiomyocytes constituting the heart of the heart and endothelial cells constituting the blood vessels. The isolated non-cellular component is transformed into a “personalized gel” that acts as a “cement” that builds the house, fixes the cell's location, and acts as an extracellular matrix to promote the growth of these “small bricks”. Establish a connection and eventually reorganize into a functional organ. Since the printed "raw material" comes from the patient itself, there is no need to worry about the occurrence of rejection.


However, this 3D heart currently only has a contraction function, and the researchers need to further culture, "teaching" the heart cells to work together to achieve the pumping function, and then carry out animal transplantation experiments. The distance is really applied to human heart transplants, and more work needs to be done. In addition to cardiomyocytes and blood vessels, the heart also includes fibroblasts, nerve cells, fat, etc. How to reconcile the growth environment of different kinds of cells remains to be studied. In addition, due to the limited resolution of cardiac scanning technology and printers, it is currently not possible to print out all the blood vessels in the heart.


Organ transplantation includes not only the heart but also the liver and kidneys. The researchers tried to "smash the hardest bones" in organ printing.


From the medical models used in preoperative analysis to the titanium alloy bones implanted in the human body, from simple organization to functionally complex organs, researchers continue to make new breakthroughs in the field of bioprinting, and bring new hope to patients.