Three-Dimensional (3D) Printed Heart?

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What You Need to Know:

Scientists in Israel have made a significant advancement in regenerative medicine by constructing the first ever three-dimensional (3D) printed heart from human cells. This heart is not actually large enough for human use and it does not contract, but it is promising, nevertheless.

This 3D heart is structurally accurate with blood vessels, cells, and chambers. Dr. Dvir and his team made the heart by converting fat cells, which were extracted from fatty tissue in patients, into stem cells. The stem cells were added to a gel where they were processed until converted into heart cells. Bioink, which contains living cells, was added to the 3D printer to build the heart one layer at a time.

Who Will Benefit?

Patients with advanced refractory heart failure who meet criteria for heart transplantation must wait on a list with other similarly ill patients and compete for the limited number of donor hearts available. These patients often die while waiting because their illness is progressive and available suitable hearts are in short supply. The potential ability to create a 3D printed heart on demand would be a game changer for this group.

The fundamental goal for these scientists is to create a fully functional 3D printed heart that can be transplanted into humans. Next steps for this research team include searching for methods to make 3D hearts work as normal human hearts, and then transplanting them into rats to observe how well they function.

The complete paper detailing the creation of this 3D printed heart can be found in Advanced Science

Read more about Three-Dimensional Printing in Cardiology and other Specialties:

Schwartz’s Principles of Surgery, 11e: Chapter 20. Congenital Heart Disease

Hurst’s the Heart, 14e: Chapter 4. Functional Anatomy of the Heart 

Principles of Rehabilitation Medicine: Chapter 59. Issues in Pediatric Amputations

Melanie Allison, DNP, MSN, RN, ACNP-BC

Executive Manager, Education & Learning, McGraw-Hill

Melanie Allison is the Executive Manager of Education & Learning with McGraw Hill. She earned her Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) degree and Post-Master’s Certificate in Nursing Education from The Johns Hopkins University. She earned her Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) degree, specializing as an acute care nurse practitioner (ACNP), from Vanderbilt University. Melanie has more than 20 years of experience as a registered nurse and nurse practitioner in adult cardiology and advanced lipid management. She is a part-time faculty member at a top school of nursing where she has taught for more than 16 years.