3D printed houses and prosthetics have been in the news for a while, but soon we could also get a 3D printed heart. Some Israeli scientist claim that they have created the first 3D printed heart with human tissue.

“This is the first time anyone anywhere has successfully engineered and printed an entire heart replete with cells, blood vessels, ventricles and chambers,” said Professor Tal Dvir of TAU’s School of Molecular Cell Biology and Biotechnology to Jerusalem Post.

The 3D printed human heart that the scientists at Tel Aviv University have created, is the closest to an artificial heart to date. They believe that one day this technology could be used to manufacture a full-sized human heart and they could save hundreds of people who die year after year awaiting transplants.

Cardiovascular diseases are the number one cause of death in industrialized nations. A heart transplant is the only solution available for people with severe cardiovascular problems. The number of donors are few and the wait lists for heart transplants are often long. Many patients die while on the waiting list all around the world. If we could really transplant an impaired heart with an artificial one created using a 3D printer, it would truly be a medical breakthrough.

In the past, there have been a few attempts at creating a 3D printed heart. “People have managed to 3D print the structure of a heart in the past, but not with cells or with blood vessels. This heart is made from human cells and patient-specific biological materials,” said Professor Dvir.

In their model, the group first extracted cells from a patient and combined them with hydrogel to make the bioink. This bioink could be used to print thick and vascularized cardiac patches that perfectly match the anatomical, biochemical, and immunological properties of the patient.

The 3D printed heart with human tissue that professor Dvir and team created is the size of a rabbit’s heart. But the professor claims that larger human hearts could be created using the same technology.