3D Printing of Vascularized Patient Specific Hearts

Nadav Noor 1,2 Assaf Shapira 1 Reuven Edri 1 Tal Dvir 1,2
1Faculty of Life Sciences, Israel
2Department of Materials Science and Engineering, Israel

Cardiovascular diseases are the number one cause of death in industrialized nations. To date, heart transplantation is the only treatment for patients with end-stage heart failure. Cardiac tissue engineering provides an alternative approach by combining cardiomyocytes and 3D biomaterials to create a functional cardiac patch. Later, the cardiac patch is implanted to restore the myocardial function. Recently, injectable decellularized omentum-hydrogels were developed in our lab, capable of self-assembly under physiological conditions. These autologous hydrogels have already been validated to support culturing and differentiation of induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs), thus may serve as a platform for engineering completely autologous tissues. However, the main drawback in cell encapsulation in bulk hydrogels is the severe depletion of oxygen and nutrients from the hydrogel inner core, which results in cell death. Therefore, we believe that by 3D printing of supporting vasculature within the bulk of the omentum-hydrogel we can engineer a vascularized patient-specific cardiac patch, which overcomes this challenge. Although implantation of a cardiac patch may improve the myocardial function, one of our lab’s long-term goals is to completely recommence the heart function by replacing the infarcted organ with a 3D-printed whole functional heart.

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