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Carnegie Mellon researchers successfully 3D print a human heart using collagen

Published Date : 2019-08-04 Author : Eric

A team at Carnegie Mellon University has published a study that describes a novel technique to print 3D bioprint tissue scaffolds from collagen, a major structural protein in the human body. This method, a first of its kind, advances the application of the field of tissue engineering to 3D print a full-sized, adult human heart. The technique, known as Freeform Reversible Embedding of Suspended Hydrogels (FRESH), has resolved many issues associated with the existing 3D bioprinting mechanisms and has helped the researchers achieve unprecedented resolution and fidelity out of soft and living materials. The team’s findings have been published in Science.

Each organ in the human body, like the heart, is built using specialized cells held together by a biological scaffold known as the extracellular matrix (ECM). The network of ECM proteins provides the structure and biochemical signals that are needed for the normal functioning of the cells. However, the recreation of the complex ECM architecture using traditional biofabrication methods has not witnessed any success. Adam Feinberg, Professor, Biomedical Engineering (BME) and Materials Science & Engineering, says that their research explains how we can print pieces of the heart out of the cells and collagen into parts that can efficiently function, like a heart valve or a small beating ventricle. Feinberg, whose lab executed the study, adds that with MRI data of a human heart, the team could accurately rebuild the patient-specific anatomical structure and 3D bioprint collagen and human heart cells. The FRESH 3D bioprinting method allows the layered deposition of collagen within a support bath of gel, allowing the collagen to solidify in place before it is removed from the support bath.

A considerable section of the population is waiting to receive replacement organs; thus, new methods are being explored to engineer artificial organs that will be able to repair, support, or replace long-term organ functions. Feinberg, a member of the University’s Bioengineered Organs Initiative and the Next Manufacturing Center, hopes to find solutions to such difficulties with advanced bioengineered organs that closely resemble the natural organ structures.

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