Scientists working on printing 3-D heart


Scientists are attempting to build a human heart with a 3-D printer, with a view to creating a new heart for a patient with their own cells that could be transplanted.

Stuart Williams, a cell biologist leading the project has said the University of Louisville team has so far printed human heart valves and small veins with cells, and they can construct some other parts with other methods. He noted that they have also successfully tested the tiny blood vessels in mice and other small animals.

Researchers have already used 3-D printers to make splints, valves and even a human ear.

Williams believes they can print parts and assemble an entire heart in three to five years. The finished product would be called the “bioficial heart” — a blend of natural and artificial.

“With complex organs such as the kidney and heart, a major challenge is being able to provide the structure with enough oxygen to survive until it can integrate with the body,” said Dr. Anthony Atala, whose team at Wake Forest University is using 3-D printers to attempt to make a human kidney.