Feb 10, 2017 | By Benedict

A team of researchers in Korea has used a 3D bioprinter to make a myocardial therapeutic patch for treating ischemic heart disease. When attached to the heart, the 3D printed patch can generate new blood vessels and tissues.

Professor Park Hoon-joon of the Seoul St. Mary's Hospital and professor Jo Dong-woo of the Pohang University of Science & Technology, two of the lead researchers on the exciting bioprinting study, announced the results of their research on February 9, claiming that their 3D printed myocardial patch could radically change the way doctors approach the treatment of ischemia, a condition that results in low blood supply to the heart muscles or other organs.

To create the 3D printed heart patch, the researchers used cardiac extracellular matrices as a 3D printable bioink, with cardiac stem cells and mesenchymal stem cells configured in a double-cell arrangement. A vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF), a signal protein that stimulates vasculogenesis and angiogenesis, was also introduced. The researchers say that this complex arrangement could hold the key to recovery from ischemic heart disease—at present, the five-year survival rate for patients is less than 50 percent.

The Korean researchers tested out their 3D printed heart patch by transplanting it into the heart-diseased epicardium (the part of the heart liable to cause heart attacks) of a number of lab animals. Once fully implanted, the 3D bioprinted patch was able to reduce the hardness of certain fibrotic areas affected by a lack of blood supply. The patch also increased the number of capillary blood vessels, with some of the new stem cells differentiating into myocardial cells.

Although the research is still in its early stages, the researchers believe that the successful animal testing is proof that the 3D printed myocardial patch offers some hope of a new form of heart disease treatment. By 3D printing the stem cells into precise arrangements, medical professionals would be able to fabricate patches tailored to an individual patient’s heart.

“The human heart has been regarded as an organ that cannot be restored once damaged, but the patch opens up the possibility of regenerative therapy for recovery from heart attacks,” the researchers explained. “Using the patch, we will work on a next-generation stem cell therapy platform, making use of tissue engineering techniques such as 3D cell printing and the preparation of stem cell lines that can be clinically applied.”

The results of the 3D bioprinting study have been published in the journal Biomaterials.

 

 

Posted in 3D Printing Application

 

 

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