Tel Aviv University researchers have "printed" the world's first 3D vascularized engineered heart using a patient's cells and biological materials. Until now, scientists in regenerative medicine — a field positioned at the crossroads of biology and technology — have been successful in printing only simple tissues without blood vessels.
This is the first time anyone anywhere has successfully engineered and printed an entire heart replete with cells, blood vessels, ventricles, and chambers," says Prof. Tal Dvir of TAU's School of Molecular Cell Biology and Biotechnology, Department of Materials Science and Engineering, Center for Nanoscience and Nanotechnology and Sagol Center for Regenerative Biotechnology, who led the research for the study.
The secret to a new heart!!
For the research, a biopsy of fatty tissue was taken from patients. The cellular and a-cellular materials of the tissue were then separated. While the cells were reprogrammed to become pluripotent stem cells, the extracellular matrix (ECM), a three-dimensional network of extracellular macromolecules such as collagen and glycoproteins, were processed into a personalized hydrogel that served as the printing "ink."
After being mixed with the hydrogel, the cells were efficiently differentiated to cardiac or endothelial cells to create patient-specific, immune-compatible cardiac patches with blood vessels and, subsequently, an entire heart.
According to Prof. Dvir, the use of "native" patient-specific materials is crucial to successfully engineering tissues and organs.
"Maybe, in ten years, there will be organ printers in the finest hospitals around the world, and these procedures will be conducted routinely."