Researchers successfully print world's-first 3D heart from human tissue

Isreali team makes breakthrough that could have major impact on future transplant surgery

The breakthrough marks the first time a 3D heart has been printed from human tissue

Israeli researchers have printed the world’s-first 3D heart from human tissue.

The miniature organ, about the size of a rabbit’s heart, took about three hours to print.

Details of the groundbreaking achievement — led by Tal Dvir of Tel Aviv University’s School of Molecular Cell Biology and Biotechnology — were presented during a press conference in Tel Aviv this week.

The method we have developed will allow us in the future to print a heart of any size required from the human tissue of patients themselves, meaning that the body will not reject it

It is the first time anyone has successfully engineered and printed an entire heart replete with cells, blood vessels, ventricles and chambers.

Previously, people had managed to 3D-print the structure of a heart in the past, but not with cells or blood vessels.

Professor Dvir said: “The method we have developed will allow us in the future to print a heart of any size required from the human tissue of patients themselves, meaning that the body will not reject it.

“In fact, this method allows us to print any organ that is required for a transplant and we believe that this method opens the door to future technologies, which will make the need for organ donors completely unnecessary.”

He estimated that such procedures could be routine in the next decade or so, but stressed more work still needed to be done.

The next step is to begin developing hearts for transplanting into laboratory rats and rabbits, before moving onto human clinical trials.

Commenting on the news, Steven Levine, a senior director at Dassault Systèmes – a 3D visualisation firm – told BBH: “The potential benefit of 3D-printed organs to ease lengthening donor waiting lists for transplantations is huge.

“Populations are growing and while our ability to provide life-saving medical care advances, our capacity and resources are not able to keep pace – no more so than in the ever-struggling NHS.

While our ability to provide life-saving medical care advances, our capacity and resources are not able to keep pace – no more so than in the ever-struggling NHS

“Breakthroughs in 3D-printed human hearts, offering vascularised models developed from real human tissue, are an exciting step towards realising a future that is less reliant on time-critical human donations.”

He added: “The stakes with 3D-printed organs couldn’t be higher, but the benefits to society if delivered correctly would be invaluable.

“This is where trusted, sustainable solutions which consistently satisfy the highest levels of testing are vital to the future success of the sector.”