The scientists have said that they are taking a step forward to create 3D printed hearts. They mentioned that their goal is to develop replacement tissues for human organs and other parts of body, damaged due to any injury or disease.
These 3D printers are different that traditional printers which print on 2D scale or on a flat surface. While 3D printer churns out the 3-dimensional structure with the help of computer model. It prints the structure layer by layer on materials like ceramic, metal, plastic, etc.
The technology is already being used in several industries and research conducted by scientists in last few years has developed this technology for 3D bio-printing, too. The scientists are hoping that this technology has the capacity to develop tissues as well as whole organs for the patients.
The fact is that human body and functional structure is way more complicated and this kind of printing will need blood vessels, nerves, etc. to keep the organs alive. Lead researcher, Andrew Lee said that they might be years away from printing a properly functional human body organ that could be transplanted in the patients. Lee and his colleagues from Carnegie Mellon University, Pittsburgh have reported a significant step for this long road in which they have developed a bio-printing method with the help of collagen and it is capable of creating human heart parts.
Being the most abundant protein of human body, collagen is an essential part of extracellular matrix. This matrix is a network of body cells that provides chemical structure and support by surrounding them. The researchers have addressed a major obstacle in this printing that since collagen is fluid, so it would result into a puddle. However, they are suggesting a gel based frame that would hold the printed structure until it solidifies and that could be removed afterwards.