World’s First 3D Printed Hearts And Functional Beating Hearts Grown From Stem Cells
More than 25 million people suffer heart failure each year. In the United States, approximately 2,500 of the 4,000 people in line for heart transplants actually receive them. That means almost 50% of the people needing a new heart to keep them alive won’t get it. But now, scientists from Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School have successfully grown a human heart from adult skin cells in a lab. In addition, researchers from Tel Aviv University have “printed” the world’s first 3D vascularized engineered heart using a patient’s own cells and biological materials. Their research may someday soon solve the shortage problem of hearts the world faces today.
Grow A Heart:
In the study done by the scientists from Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical school, they grew a heart using stem cells then shocked it with an electric current to bring it to life.
- 73 donor hearts deemed unfit for transplantation were used.
- They took skin cells and turned them into pluripotent stem cells, the kinds of cells that can be specialized to any part of the human body, using messenger RNA. Then, they caused the stem cells to develop into two types of cardiac cells.
- The scientists stripped away from cells on the donated hearts and replaced them with those transformed skin cells.
- Next, they mimicked the environment a human heart would typically grow within and infused the cardiac cells with a nutrient solution that facilitated growth. They left the cells there for two weeks.
- After the two weeks, they shocked the hearts with electricity and it began beating. Furthermore, the tissue inside appeared to be well-structured and functional.
- The study has been published in Circulation Research.
The team of scientists wrote:
To show that functional myocardial tissue of human scale can be built on this platform, we then partially recellularized human whole-heart scaffolds with human induced pluripotent stem cell–derived cardiomyocytes. Under biomimetic culture, the seeded constructs developed force-generating human myocardial tissue and showed electrical conductivity, left ventricular pressure development, and metabolic function.
Print A Heart:
The world’s first ‘printed’ 3D vascularized engineered heart by Tel Aviv University completely matches the immunological, cellular, biochemical and anatomical properties of the patient because it uses a patient’s own cells and biological materials.
Here’s what they did:
- First, a biopsy of fatty tissue was taken from patients.
- Then, the cellular and a-cellular materials of the tissue were separated.
- While the cells were reprogrammed to become pluripotent stem cells, the extracellular matrix (ECM), a three-dimensional network of extracellular macromolecules such as collagen and glycoproteins, were processed into a personalized hydrogel that served as the printing “ink.”
- After being mixed with the hydrogel, the cells were efficiently differentiated to cardiac or endothelial cells to create patient-specific, immune-compatible cardiac patches with blood vessels and, subsequently, an entire heart.
- Their findings were published in the journal Advanced Science.
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