Specialists of the Chicago biotechnology company BIOLIFE4D have successfully 3D printed a human mini-heart with the same structure as a full-size one. This is an important step in the creation of a transplantable artificial heart.
The artificial heart was printed with cells obtained from a patient - cardiomyocytes and bio-ink made from extracellular matrix compounds. BIOLIFE4D first printed human cardiac tissue in June 2018. Later this year, the individual components of the heart were printed, including the valves, ventricles, and blood vessels.
This process involves reprogramming a patient's white blood cells into induced pluripotent stem cells (iPS cells), which can convert into various types of cells, including heart cells.
The ultimate goal of the company is to create a bioprint of a fully functional human heart. In theory, 3D grafts can reduce or even completely solve the problem of donor organs. At the same time, BIOLIFE4D is far from the only company leading such developments. Previously, scientists from Tel Aviv University and MIT biotechnologists published their versions of an artificial heart.