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3D bioprinted heart offers hope to cardiac patients

05 Nov 2015

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For most cardiac patients, receiving a heart transplant is seen as the last ray of hope. With failing hearts, these patients have no other options. Heart tissue, unlike other parts of the body, is unable to heal itself once it is damaged. Now, a team of researchers at Carnegie Mellon is developing a technology that could eliminate the need for transplants in order to repair damaged organs.

3D bioprint

Carnegie Mellon researchers found a way to print soft materials inside a support bath material, which could make rebuilding hearts possible.

"We've been able to take MRI images of coronary arteries and 3D images of embryonic hearts and 3D bioprint them with unprecedented resolution and quality out of very soft materials like collagens, alginates and fibrins," said Adam Feinberg, an associate professor of materials science and engineering and biomedical engineering at Carnegie Mellon University. Feinberg leads the Regenerative Biomaterials and Therapeutics Group, and the group's study was published in the October 23 issue of the journal Science Advances.

"As excellently demonstrated by professor Feinberg's work in bioprinting, our CMU researchers continue to develop novel solutions like this for problems that can have a transformational effect on society," said James Garrett, dean of Carnegie Mellon's college of engineering. "We should expect to see 3D bioprinting continue to grow as an important tool for a large number of medical applications."

Traditional 3D printers build hard objects, typically made of plastic or metal, and they work by depositing material onto a surface layer-by-layer to create the 3D object. Printing each layer requires sturdy support from the layers below, so printing with soft materials like gels has been limited.

"3D printing of various materials has been a common trend in tissue engineering in the last decade, but until now, no one had developed a method for assembling common tissue engineering gels like collagen or fibrin," said TJ Hinton, a graduate student in biomedical engineering at Carnegie Mellon and lead author of the study.

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