There was a possible breakthrough in organ manufacturing in the lab. Israeli researchers have printed a heart with muscle and blood vessels in 3D. But how long does it take to get ready for actual use? Not for a while, according to Dr. Max Gomez of CBS New York.
Printing an organ is much more complicated than injecting a bundle of cells into the shape of a heart or a kidney.
However, the researchers at the University of Tel Aviv have made a big step towards standard organs.
The video shows how a living heart is printed. 3D printing includes not only cardiac cells, but also blood vessels and other supporting structures. It's a small heart, about the size of a rabbit. The cells not only live, but all the different cell types in the heart come from a single human donor.
"That's important because it prevents the possibility of rejection," Dr. Anthony Atala from the Wake Forest Institute for Regenerative Medicine.
Dr. Atala is a pioneer in the 3D printing of organs and tissues. He explained that the cells from which the heart was made came from a donor's adipose tissue, were transformed into stem cells and then differentiated into the different cell types in the heart.
These cells are then printed in a biodegradable scaffold or skeleton that gives it its shape.
Although it looks like a heart, it does not function structurally and does not pump.
"A functioning heart needs to contract and be connected to vessels in order to function," Dr. Atala.
The first printed organs and tissues for actual human use will be simpler: bladder, ears, blood vessels, and trachea, some of which have already been implanted in patients, said Drs. Atala.
The more immediate value of Israeli work is to make what they call a heart patch a piece of functioning heart tissue to repair heart attack damage.
This core, which has an innate ability to contract, is much easier to integrate into the heart than a whole heart that needs to be contracted in a coordinated fashion. Atria and ventricles need to be pumped in a precise order so that blood can be efficiently pumped.