On April 15, 2019, Tel Aviv University in Israel published a comprehensive science journal, Advanced Science, which announced the successful use of human cells to create the world's first 3D printed heart. This new technological breakthrough has the potential to make long and dangerous organ transplants a thing of the past.
The 3D printed artificial heart is about two centimeters long and is a genuinely reduced version of the human heart. It not only has heart cells, but also blood vessels and other supporting structures, and can even behave like a real heart.
Recently, a scientific paper published by a group of researchers at Carnegie Mellon University introduced a new 3D bioprinting method that brings the tissue engineering field closer to being able to 3D print full-size adult hearts. Their latest version of the Freeform Reversible Embedding of Suspended Hydrogels (FRESH) technology allows them to print collagen in 3D. FRESH allows collagen to be stacked layer by layer in the gel support tank, and then the support groove is melted by heating from room temperature to body temperature to obtain a perfect structure. These structures are up to 20 microns fine and can be inserted into living cells and capillaries. Through this new technology, scientists can create heart components, including tiny blood vessels, valves, and pulsating ventricles.
In the long run, this technology may be used to print the heart or other organs in the future. Of course, there are many challenges to achieving this goal, such as generating the billions of cells needed to print large organizations and complying with regulatory procedures for testing in animals and ultimately in humans.