Mini 3D-printed heart offers hope for transplants

The concept of 3D-printed organs has long been touted as a possible solution to the long waiting lists for transplantation. Now scientists in Israel have pumped fresh blood into the idea by printing a miniature “living” heart using a patient’s own tissue as the “ink”.

The Lilliputian organ — about the size of a cherry, while an adult heart is the size of a fist — is living in the sense that it is “vascularised”, meaning it contains blood vessels. It demonstrates that bioprinting can potentially recreate not just the structure of an organ but also the pipework needed for it to function.

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