After many failed attempts, researchers at the University of Minnesota have finally managed to 3D print a human heart pump that beats on its own.
Although the pump is only 1.5 centimeters long, the team believes it will have a massive impact on the future treatment of heart disease, the leading cause of death in the U.S.
The heart pump was created by adding pluripotent stem cells to Bioink before utilizing a specialized 3D printer.
Then, the team waited two weeks for the stem cells to multiply.
Once the cells reached the perfect density, the researchers prompted them to evolve into heart muscle cells (if you really want to know how one prompts cells to evolve, put on your lab goggles and read this.)
Less than a month later, the heart pump was pumpin’.
“I couldn’t believe it when we looked at the dish in the lab and saw the whole thing contracting spontaneously and synchronously and able to move fluid,” lead researcher Brenda Ogle, head of UMN’s Department of Biomedical Engineering, said in a news release.
The key to their breakthrough, according to Ogle, was waiting until after printing to turn the cells into heart muscles.
Previously, they had developed the stem cells into heart cells before printing, and the cells never reached the correct density.
“We see the potential and think that our new discovery could have a transformative effect on heart research.”
To learn about other new uses for 3D printing click here.