From Printing Prototypes to Human Organs

Technology never fails to blow our mind as it continues to push the limits. We have been able to invent stuff that didn’t seem possible back in the day from smartphones to 3D printers.

3d printers are one of those things that continue to surprise and amaze people. 3d printers have come an extraordinary far way since their initial invention by Chuck Hull. Over time, 3D printer’s capabilities have become more and more mindblowing. They went from only being able to print plastic models to be able to print other sorts of materials with a special filament, to the ability to print electrical circuits.

A major breakthrough that could change the lives of many with heart disease.

Just when you thought the limits have been reached, a group of Israeli researchers decided to push the functionalities of 3d printing even further. They were able to successfully 3d print a heart made with human tissue. Israeli researchers hope that with this new technology, we will be able to successfully create functioning hearts for those who suffer from heart disease.
This is a major breakthrough in the medical world because synthetic materials are normally rejected by the patient’s immune system.

From Printing Prototypes to Human Organs 1
                      Photo from USA Today

This invention has the potential to be revolutionary and might even make organ donations obsolete over the next decade.

The Israeli research team which was lead by Professor Tal Dvir, Dr Assaf Shapira and Nadav Noor from TAU’s School of Molecular Cell Biology have managed to not only be able to 3d print a human heart, but they have also been able to create blood vessels from collagen. As we all know, collagen is the main protein in extracellular space in the many connective tissues of the body.

Not a single detail of the heart was left out, it comes with everything from blood vessels to chambers. It is even made with human cells and other biological materials which serve as biolinks.

This is the first time anyone anywhere has successfully engineered and printed an entire heart replete with cells, blood vessels, ventricles and chambers,” said Mr Dvir.

This is some truly remarkable research that will definitely pay off.

The heart that Professor Tal Dvir’s team created was only minuscule. It was printed on a small scale. The heart is very small and can most likely fit inside a rabbit. Professor Tal Dvir also believes that following the same concept and upping the size to that of a humans heart, could potentially rid the need for organ donations. As amazing as this new invention is, it may take many years for it to be practised on humans.

The researchers believe that making a heart out of the patient’s own tissue lowers the risk of rejection and incompatibility that donated hearts might cause.

What makes this a revolutionary breakthrough?

Being able to now 3d print a human heart is probably one of the most thoughtful and useful inventions because it has the potential to save thousands of lives.
Did you know that in the United States, heart disease is the leading cause of death amongst men and women? Heart transplants are becoming more and more common and the waiting lists for patients average around 6 months which is too long to wait.

3d printed hearts could save so much time and many lives because the waitlists will decrease dramatically and the immune risks of using another person’s heart will be cut down due to the heart being printed using their own tissue.

Here in Australia, heart disease and transplants are not needed nearly as much as in the United States, but it would still be very helpful as roughly 70 Australians each year undergo a heart transplant.

The number of people with severe heart problems is greater than the number of heart donors there are. This means that scientists have been quick to find a solution to this ever growing problem.

If a 3d printed heart can prove to be of a standard high enough to support human life, then this could spell good news to people who suffer from other issues with other organs. If the same methodology is used, then it might be possible to be able to print kidneys, livers and lungs for example. Until then, we must wait.