Researchers Can Now 3D Print A Human Heart Using Biological Material

Posted by on November 17, 2017 in Sci-Tech, Science with 7 Comments
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Video Source: College of Engineering, Carnegie Mellon University

3D printing technology can construct actual, working bridges on Earth, build elaborate decorative accessories for your home, produce prosthetics for amputees, and (unfortunately) manufacture working firearms. Although impressive, all these innovations have something in common: they are only producing inorganic, plastic-based material. What about organic materials, say, perhaps, human organs? Wouldn’t it be great if new organs could be printed out and used in surgical operations to save people’s lives? As it turns out, a group of Carnegie Mellon researchers have managed to do almost precisely this, producing models of a variety of human organs and body parts using a hacked 3D printer bought off the shop shelves. The new research, published in the journal Science Advances, demonstrates that it is possible to replicate the heart through 3D printing.

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“3-D printing of various materials has been a common trend in tissue engineering in the last decade, but until now, no one had developed a method for assembling common tissue engineering gels like collagen or fibrin,” said TJ Hinton, a graduate student in biomedical engineering at Carnegie Mellon and lead author of the study, in a statement.

Biological materials are often soft and fragile in isolation, which proved a challenge for the scientists behind the study. Soft materials tend to collapse under their own weight when printed in air, meaning that the soft objects had to be printed inside a material that could support their structure. To this end, a “bath” of chemicals – a support gel akin to an exoskeleton – was used, one that held together the fragile soft printed structure as it formed. After the printing had concluded, the support gel could then be melted away by heating it to body temperature (37°C, or 99°F), leaving the soft material within intact.

Related Article: Baby’s Life Saved with 3D Printing

These soft materials were not mere plastic copies of biological material: collagens, muscle fibers, miniature brain structures, and branching artery patterns made of biological matter have all been produced using the technique. Most impressively, using magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans of human coronary arteries and 3D images of embryonic human hearts, the team have managed to 3D print replicas of both. This type of “bioprinting” has been given the acronym of FRESH – Freeform Reversible Embedding of Suspended Hydrogels.

Related Article: Beijing Surgeons Replace a Child’s Cancerous Vertebra with a 3D-Printed Implant

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7 Reader Comments

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  1. 10153661474469459@facebook.com' Alexander Horsfall says:

    Pretty awesome

  2. 1937329849825386@facebook.com' B.j. Figueroa says:

    Cloning made easy!

  3. 887986697945435@facebook.com' Kayla Parker says:

    Owen Parker

  4. 185591101784318@facebook.com' Jodie Robinson says:

    Wtf……that’s full on yeh 🙂

  5. 10205636263689926@facebook.com' Tanya Meri Rose says:

    Nooo…unnerving thoughts of human-like robots in place of gov’t soldiers taking control

  6. 872631549499838@facebook.com' Heru El says:

    Terminator will be unleashed soon, coming to a neighborhood near us, I wonder will they use excessive force on selected targets, then again it depends on who writes the program.

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