Harvard Researchers Print Functional Heart Tissue
Kyle Maxey posted on March 21, 2014 |
Harvard researchers engineer a 3D printed cardiac replacement tissue that mimics heart muscles.
heart, repair, tissue, harvard, 3d printing, bioprinting, medicineIn a report delivered to the American Chemical Society, Harvard researchers state they’ve created a printed tissue that mimics natural heart muscle – working in a petri dish and when implanted in animals.

One of the biggest problems facing patients with heart damage is the fact that the organ’s tissues can’t be easily replaced. Often times a heart attack victims’ only option for treatment is dangerous organ implant surgery.

In an effort to provide cardiac patients with more options, a team of physicians and researchers from the University of Sydney, Brigham and Women's Hospital, and Harvard Medical School have developed a new 3D printed artificial cardiac tissue that can be used to repair damaged hearts.

“Our hearts are more than just a pile of cells,” said Ali Khademhosseini, a Ph.D. at Harvard Medical School. “They’re very organized in their architecture.”

That complex organizational structure led the research team to create a system whereby a 3D printer deposits precisely positioned cardiac cells into a protein rich, custom-designed hydrogel substrate.

Once nested within the tailored hydrogel the cardiac cells gain resiliency and strength, growing across and through the furrows of the chemical scaffold. After time small patches of healthy, functional cardiac tissue begin to emerge. Once mature, these patches can be removed from their hydrogel housing and implanted in test animals.

In the end, the new bioprinting technology could help save countless lives and eliminate the need for high-risk surgeries such as double, triple and quadruple bi-passes. “Repairing damaged hearts could help millions of people around the world live longer, healthier lives,” said Harvard Ph.D. Nasim Annabi.

To me, the rapid development of bioprinting is amazing. Although it will still be a while before any of these technologies are readily available, the spread of high-resolution 3D printing technology seems to be accelerating the pace of medical invention.

Image and Video Courtesy of ACS


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