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3D-printed heart unveiled in Israel

Updated: Apr 17, 2019

April 15,2019 - Scientists and researchers at Tel Aviv university have made a major medical breakthrough with the 3D printing of the first functioning human heart (about the size of a rabbit’s heart) created from human tissue.

It marked “the first time anyone anywhere has successfully engineered and printed an entire heart replete with cells, blood vessels, ventricles and chambers,” said Tal Dvir, who led the project.

While this is an amazing advancement in 3D organ printing, researchers caution that many challenges remain before fully working 3D printed hearts will be available for transplant into patients.

Journalists were shown a 3D print of a heart about the size of a cherry at Tel Aviv University on Monday as the researchers announced their findings, published in the peer-reviewed journal Advanced Science.

Next steps for the research team are to ‘teach’ the newly printed hearts to behave like real ones. At this point the 3D printed hearts are able to contract and now we have to ‘teach’ them how to pump.

Once the 3D printed hearts are fully functional (in about a year) they will be transplanted into animal models for further study.

‘Maybe, in 10 years, there will be organ printers in the finest hospitals around the world, and these procedures will be conducted routinely,’

Davir believes that hospitals will first start 3D organ transplants with ‘simpler’ organs than hearts.

Using the patient’s own tissue is important to eliminate the risk of an implant provoking an immune response and being rejected, Dvir said.

In announcing the major medical breakthrough, Tel Aviv University called it a great day for human kind, for the advancement of science and most importantly for the hundreds of thousands of patients who die needlessly each year waiting for organ transplants.