The future is here. In a world first, Israeli scientists have created a living heart in a revolutionary new 3D printing process that combines human tissue from a patient.
In November, researchers from Tel Aviv University said they invented the first completely personal tissue implant that was constructed from a patient's own biomaterials and cells, paving the way for new technologies that would allow the development of any type of tissue implant from a small fat tissue biopsy.
Now the same researchers created a real heart with the help of their innovative process at the Laboratory for Tissue Engineering and Regenerative Medicine, led by Professor Tal Dvir, associate professor at Tel Aviv University, Department of Molecular Microbiology and Biotechnology.  SEE ALSO : Israel's Scientific Engineer Tissue Implants Using Patient's Own Cells
"This is the first time anyone has successfully constructed and printed a whole heart complete with cells, blood vessels, ventricles and chambers , "Professor Dvir said in a press release on Monday at the university. The process meant that fat tissue, after which cellular and α-cellular materials were separated. While the cells were reprogrammed to become pluripotent stem cells and effectively differentiated into cardiac or endothelial cells, the extracellular matrix (ECM), a three-dimensional network of extracellular macromolecules, such as collagen and glycoproteins, was treated to a personal hydrogel which served as the "ink" print, Tel. Aviv University said in a statement.
The differentiated cells were then mixed with biological inks and used to print patient-specific, immunocompatible cardiac blood vessels and then, a whole, small heart.
Cardiovascular diseases are the world's leading cause of death worldwide, according to the World Health Organization. In 2016, about 17.9 million people were killed by heart disease, a majority due to heart attack and stroke.
Cardiac transplantation is currently the only treatment available to patients with end-stage heart failure. And with a lack of heart donors, this scientific breakthrough development can browse a trail in the medical world that paves the way for a potential revolution in organ and tissue transplantation.
"This heart is made of human cells and patient-specific biological materials. In our process, these materials act as bio-couplings, sugars and proteins that can be used for 3D printing of complex tissue models," says Professor Dvir.