It has four chambers, blood vessels and it beats — sort of.
In a first, scientists have 3D printed a heart using human tissue. Though the heart is much smaller than a human’s (it’s only the size of a rabbit’s), and there’s still a long way to go until it functions like a normal heart, the proof-of-concept experiment could eventually lead to personalized organs or tissues that could be used in the human body, according to a study published Monday (April 15) in the journal Advanced Science.
To print the heart, researchers at Tel Aviv University in Israel began by taking a small sample of fatty tissue from a patient. In the lab, they separated this tissue into its component cells and the structure on which the cells sit, called the extracellular matrix.
Using genetic engineering, the scientists then tweaked the various components, reprogramming some of the cells to become cardiac muscle cells, or cardiomyocytes, and some to become cells that generate blood vessels.