Bioprinting hearts should radically change transplantology

Transplantology saved the lives of many. People received a «second chance», and could enjoy life further. But, unfortunately, heart transplantation is associated with many risks. First, the patient’s immune system often rejects the organ. Because usually these people are given medicines that suppress it. And this entails the risk of cancer and other dangerous diseases. Also, a big problem today is the deficit of donor hearts.

All these problems at once want to solve the Biolife4D startup using the technology of bioprinting hearts on a special 3D printer. A huge advantage of this method should be that the organ will be created on the basis of the patient’s own cells. This minimizes the risk of rejection, since the new heart will be a genetic copy of the «old» one. Therefore, you do not have to use immunosuppressants.

The bioprinting hearts themselves will be as follows. First, using MRI, the heart of the patient is scanned to obtain a digital image. After that, samples of cells are extracted from the blood, which are converted into stem cells and cardiomyocytes will grow. They are mixed with nutrients and hydrogel. From the obtained biochernil print the heart in a special printer.

Each layer will be applied evenly to the biodegradable skeleton. Its shape will be an exact copy of the obtained MRI digital image. Cells will be collected in a bioreactor. When the organ gets stronger, its skeleton is melted with a certain temperature. After the organ is ready for transplantation.

But there are certain difficulties. For example — a complex network of blood vessels, which will need to be copied. In the coming years, researchers are going to cope with this task.

First, the startup will produce small hearts for testing drugs. This is already a great achievement, because such tests will be much more accurate than those that are now conducted on animals. The result can help many. Then, there will be attempts to create organs for small animals. Then — large. And only after this — for a person.