Israeli Scientists Print World's First 3D Heart with Human Tissue

Alicia Farmer
April 16, 2019

This article has been republished from materials provided by Tel Aviv University American Friends.

Researchers from Tel Aviv University on Monday announced they had printed a 3D vascularised heart made from a patients' own tissue - an achievement that the university touted as a "major medical breakthrough". This is believed to be the first time an entire heart with cells, blood vessels, ventricles and chambers has been reproduced in this way.

The next step for the researchers is to culture the printed hearts in a laboratory and "teach them" to behave like hearts. Tal Dvir of TAU's School of Molecular Cell Biology and Biotechnology as cited by The Jerusalem Post. He worked with Prof.

Research for the study was conducted jointly by Prof Dvir, Dr Assaf Shapira of TAU's Faculty of Life Sciences and Nadav Moor, a doctoral student in Prof Dvir's lab.

Heart disease is the leading cause of death in the USA and Israel, and heart transplants are often only afforded to those with end-stage heart failure, but the lengthy wait (up to six months) for a suitable donor can often prove fatal. A transplant is the only treatment available to patients with end-stage heart failure, but there is a severe shortage of heart donors. The waiting list for patients in the USA can be as much as six months or more. A number of these patients will die while on the on the waiting list.

The world's first "printed heart" was made with actual human biological material, although only about the size of a rabbit's heart, making it too small for a human, researchers said in the Advanced Science report.

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But CT scans can't provide images of the smaller blood vessels crisscrossing heart tissue-there, in order to make sure the entire patch receives enough oxygen, mathematical models were used to create a more-complete vasculature, calculated based on the laws of oxygen consumption and equations for optimal distribution.

A 3D printer prints what Israeli scientist Professor Tal Dvir says is the world's first 3D-printed vascularized engineered heart, in a laboratory at Tel Aviv University in Tel Aviv, Israel, on April 15, 2019.

"Our results demonstrate the potential of our approach for engineering personalized tissue and organ replacement in the future", said Dr. Dvir.

At this stage, the 3D printed heart produced at TAU is sized for a rabbit.

Israeli scientists in Tel Aviv have created a human heart that completely matches all the anatomical properties of a human patient, using a 3D printer. The cellular and a-cellular materials of the tissue were then separated.

That hydrogel forms the basis of the 3D bioink, which is then mixed with stem cells that have been differentiated into cardiac and endothelial cells. The cells were reprogrammed into pluripotent stem cells, while the extracellular matrix of collagen, sugars and proteins were processed into a personalized hydrogel. By alternating between the two different inks, the researchers were able to construct patches of heart tissue with blood vessels that are compatible with the patient's immune system.

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