Back in April, foreign media reported that scientists at Israel’s Tel Aviv University used 3D printing technology of human biomaterials to print a miniature heart. U.S. researchers are now using similar 3D printing technology to print out the human heart. The organ was created by a Chicago-based biotech firm, the BOLIFE 4D team, led by lead scientist Dr. Ravi Birla.
To begin the process, white blood cells obtained from human volunteers were converted into induced pluripotent stem cells, which in turn were prompted to differentiate into various types of cardiomyocytes.They are mixed with nutrients and growth materials to form the company’s proprietary bio-inks.The ink is then extruded through a nozzle of a dedicated bio-printer and through a supporting transparent matrix material.In this way, the tiny heart is built layer by layer, and the matrix temporarily holds everything in the desired shape.
This shape is based on MRI scans of volunteers’ hearts.The scientists then placed the print in a bioreactor to mimic conditions in the human body.This causes cardiomyocytes to self-organize and fuse together to form solid heart tissue.The result is a complete (albeit small) human heart from which the matrix material can then be dissolved.
According to BIOLIFE4D, the bio3d-printed heart contains four internal Chambers — just like a real one — and “replicates some functional indicators compared to a full-size heart.”Scientists now hope that once the technology is further developed, it could be used to 3D print full-size hearts and transplant them.Because the organ has “grown” from the patient’s own cells, rejection by the immune system may not be a problem.
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