Three-dimensional printers can produce everything from homes to guns. And now, thanks to the work of Dr. Tal Dvir and his research team, hearts can be added to the list.
A team of scientists based out of Tel Aviv University claim to have produced the first 3D printed “heart replete with cells, blood vessels, ventricles, and chambers.” Roughly the size of a rabbit’s heart, the printed organ uses human tissue and vessels in its construction.
Using human cells to print a heart from scratch is only the first hurdle scientists face. Now they have to make it work – i.e. pump blood. The team says they’ve been able to contract the cells, but making the organ circulate blood is an entirely different challenge.
Therefore, while the heart represents a huge medical breakthrough, we’re still decades removed from human transplants, according to researchers. Dr. Dvir says “the finest hospitals around the world” may have patient-ready organ printers in as little as 10 years, however, they’ll most likely “start with simpler organs than hearts.”