On Monday, researchers at Tel Aviv University presented “a vascularized prototype of the human heart, printed in 3D using human tissues”. According to them, this “inert, cherry-sized heart” represents a “breakthrough” in “treating cardiovascular disease and preventing transplant rejection” since it uses a patient’s own cells. In their article published in the scientific journal Advanced Science, the authors explain that they have “designed a process to produce not only hydrogel using cells taken from the patient’s tissue, to form vascularized heart patches perfectly compatible with the recipient, but also entire cell structures such as hearts together with their main blood vessels”. They note, however, that “several difficulties remain” with 3D printing and that transplants in humans are not envisaged for the time being: this “may happen in about ten years”, but animal tests are planned for “within a year”. “What I can imagine is that in 10 years’ time there will be 3D printers in hospitals, that these printers will be printing organs for patients, and that they will probably start doing so with simpler organs than the heart,” said Professor Tal Dvir, who led the research.
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