A research team at Tel Aviv University in Israel have successfully 3D printed a heart made with human tissue.
According to the Times of Israel, on Monday, Israeli scientists unveiled the first of its kind cherry-sized 3D printed heart, deeming it a “major medical breakthrough.”
The lead scientists in the project, Tal Dvir, told the Times of Israel that his team’s 3D printed heart marked “the first time anyone anywhere has successfully engineered and printed an entire heart replete with cells, blood vessels, ventricles and chambers.”
Dvir noted that other scientists had successfully printed 3D hearts, but his heart is the first with cells and blood vessels.
According to USA Today, the team is hoping that the ability to print 3D organs could help critical patients in need of organ transplants.
While the Tel Aviv University team’s heart is merely the size of a rabbit’s, they are hopeful that the seemingly successful printing of the tiny heart could eventually lead to the printing of a human-sized heart as well as organ patches.
The research team notes that one advantage of the printed organs is that there would be a lower organ rejection rates as the organs would be generated using the patient’s own cells.
This first rendering, however, is just the start. Dvir told theTimes of Israel that researchers are now tasked with teaching the heart how to “behave” like a real heart.
Dvir shared that he hopes to be able to transplant the hearts into animals in the next year.
In the next ten, he hopes that transplants using 3D printed organs are routine, though he noted that perhaps hospitals should begin with “simpler organs than hearts.”
He told the outlet, “Maybe, in 10 years, there will be organ printers in the finest hospitals around the world, and these procedures will be conducted routinely.”
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