During emergency treatments, it is highly difficult to get donor organs. To overcome this problem, several companies are working tirelessly to be able to print organs with special tissues that replace natural ones.
Now it is the company Biolife4D, in Chicago, that has printed a 3D miniature human heart, with arteries, ventricles, and other components. At the moment it is a prototype, but they want to be able to print large-scale human hearts that can be transplanted to human patients.
To Supply Genetic 3D Organs
A patented system was used, with similar material in gelatin properties that was designed from scratch to replicate real human biomaterials. The heart was printed in the same way that a 3D printer does in our house: layer by layer. To help with structural integrity during the printing process, Biolife4D printed additional support that covers the heart.
Once fully printed, the heart was transferred to a bioreactor that mimics the conditions of the human body, helping the cells to fuse into the tissue. It is not the first time we see something like that. In April it was a laboratory at the University of Tel Aviv that used the patient’s own cells to print a 3D heart. Although this time we have four main internal chambers and other structures, such as valves.
Despite the advances, the mini heart is far from being ready for transplantation, but it could become a viable tool for cardiotoxicity tests: the study of how drug treatments could damage the muscles of the heart.
The company is already planning to increase production to eventually big impress a full-sized human heart, but for this, they will have to use multiple cell types in different regions. A process that could require the development of different types of materials for the printer.