A team of scientists from the University of Louisville has announced that they expect to be able to 3D print a perfect replacement heart from the recipients’ own cells within the next decade.
This ambitious project is headed by Stuart K Williams, scientific director of the Cardiovascular Innovation Institute at the University of Louisville. The team of 20 scientists under Williams’ leadership has already created a coronary artery, as well as printing some of the smallest blood vessels present in the heart. Though there is only limited funding for such projects so far, the cardiovascular scientists expect to see interest and funding pick up as more breakthroughs in bioprinting are achieved.
“For bioprinting it is the end of the beginning as bioprinted structures are now under intense study by biologists.” Williams said in an interview with Wired.com.
The Cardiovascular Innovation Institute is currently in the process of developing a line of bespoke 3D printers for the job of repairing and replacing pieces of the heart. Though the printers will only be able to bioprint pieces of the heart for the first few years, the plan is for the whole heart to be available within the coming decade. It is expected that the construction of an entire heart will take only three hours in the bioprinters, with a further week needed for the organ to mature outside of the body.