April 10, 2014
Doctors and researchers at the University of Louisville are attempting to build a copy of a sick patient's heart by using the person's own fat cells. A 3D printer would 'print' what scientists are calling a 'bioficial' heart, a blend of natural and artificial, reports the AP.
It might sound like an ambitious project, but Dr. Stuart Williams, a cell biologist leading the university's "Bioficial Heart Program" says it's easier than you might think:"The heart is one of the easiest - if not the easiest - tissues and organs to print because it's made up of so few cells that have really only one major function, and that is to contract, to beat."
Williams' printer uses a mixture of a gel and living cells to gradually build the shape in much the same way an inkjet printer does. The cells would be purified in a machine, and then printing would begin in sections to build the heart layer by layer. Eventually, the cells would grow together to form the tissue.
So far, the University of Louisville team has printed human heart valves and small veins with cells, and they can construct some other parts with other methods. They have also successfully tested the tiny blood vessels in mice and other small animals, he said.
Williams believes they can print parts and assemble an entire heart in three to five years. If everything goes according to plan, the heart might be tested in humans in less than a decade. The first patients would most likely be those with failing hearts who are not candidates for artificial hearts, including children whose chests are too small to for an artificial heart.
The biggest challenge is to get the cells to work together as they do in a normal heart, said Williams. In addition, they also need to understand how to keep manufactured tissue alive after it is printed.
"With complex organs such as the kidney and heart, a major challenge is being able to provide the structure with enough oxygen to survive until it can integrate with the body," said Dr. Anthony Atala, whose team at Wake Forest University is using 3D printers to attempt to make a human kidney.
Posted in 3D Printing Applications
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dodel wrote at 4/10/2014 10:57:12 AM:
So, as well as food is printed from its ingredients or organs-tissue are printed from already living parts, will it be possible to print living cells directly? Perhaps, a tiny virus or a basic cell from simple molecules or atoms? Therefore, step by step, print the whole human being, printing a dream too? Or at least, to print those interrelated genes that by their instructive nature develop complex-working living beings spontaneously? In any case, anything other than a 4D-prosthesis, a tool, an organic robot, a human-like biobot? Or rather, a pampered child of technology? The first child emerging from inert stuff entirely? Something like a modern Frankenstein? Along these lines, there is a peculiar book, a public preview in http://goo.gl/rfVqw6 Just another suggestion in order to free-thik for a while