3D-printed heart muscle beats/ Source: dpaonthenet
3D Printed Heart Models come to life with Fiber-Infused Ink. The field of bioengineering has come a long way in the past decade. To further investigate heart illness and develop individualised therapies, researchers have once again turned to 3D Printed Heart Models. This goal includes the development of implanted tissues that might one day be used to restore function to a patient’s heart after it has been destroyed.
The John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences at Harvard University has spearheaded a groundbreaking project to create a novel technique for 3D printing objects that imitate the beating of a human heart. Ink containing hydrogel infused with prefabricated gelatin fibres allowed for the accurate printing of 3D Printed Heart Models without any extra support materials. This ink is known as fiber-infused gel (FIG) ink.
During the 3D printing process, the fibers of the 3D Printed Heart Models align in a way that aids heart cells (cardiomyocytes) in organising themselves in patterns similar to those observed in genuine heart tissues, the team reports in a research published in Nature Materials. So, the 3D Printed Heart Models have qualities, such electrical conduction and contraction, that are comparable to those of genuine hearts. This method can potentially be improved in the future to make more lifelike and realistic heart models.
Fiber-infused ink enables 3D-printed heart muscle to beat/ Source: Medical Express
3D Printed Heart Models comes to life
This study is significant because it presents a new approach to 3D printing heart tissue, which brings us one step closer to duplicating the complex architecture and functions of actual hearts. By incorporating gelatin fibres into the hydrogel, the team produced more lifelike heart models. This might be useful in the fields of medicine and pharmacology, as well as in developing cutting-edge therapeutics. The researchers believe that there is opportunity for development in this approach, and future research will aim to expand its capabilities through means such as the incorporation of numerous cell types and the more accurate simulation of blood arteries.
Research associate at SEAS and lead author Suji Choi discussed the difficulties they encountered when attempting to recreate organ architecture for the sake of drug testing.
To better forecast how drugs would perform in a clinical context, scientists have been striving to create models that mimic real organs. Choi says that prior attempts at aligning cardiomyocytes, the cells responsible for the coordinated transmission of electrical signals that contract heart muscle, using 3D printing techniques alone failed.
Intricate 3D designs could now be made without additional supports when fibres were fused into the printed ink. “FIG ink can flow through the printing nozzle, yet it still retains its 3D form after printing. For those reasons, Choi explains, “I was able to print a ventricle-like structure and other complicated 3D structures without resorting to the use of additional support materials or scaffolds.
A meeting of minds led to the development of FIG ink. Luke MacQueen, a postdoctoral researcher at MIT, proposed mixing the ink with fibres made using a unique rotary jet spinning technology. Proteins that would normally breakdown in electric fields are preserved by this process, which is a significant improvement over regular electrospinning.
When Choi applied electrical stimulation to these 3D Printed Heart Models, he found that it resulted in a synchronized wave of contractions that mimicked the rhythm of genuine heart ventricles. This discovery was made while the experiments were still underway. The group asserts that they were able to quickly see the potential of the method: ventricles capable of pumping between 5 and 20 times greater fluid volume than earlier models.
Kevin “Kit” Parker, senior author of the research, Tarr Family Professor of Bioengineering and Applied Physics, and leader of the Disease Biophysics Group at SEAS said, “We launched this effort to address some of the deficiencies in 3D printing of biological tissues.” “When Luke developed this idea, the goal was to expand the range of spatial scales that could be printed with 3D printers by lowering the bottom out of the lower limits and bringing it down to the nanometer scale.
Luke’s vision was to broaden the range of spatial scales printed with 3D printers like 3D Printed Heart Models. We can employ proteins in the production of the fibres using rotary jet spinning that would otherwise be damaged by the electrical fields used in electrospinning. This is a benefit of rotary jet spinning over electrospinning.
Even though the crew knows the prototype’s shortcomings, they are excited about its potential. In point of fact, work is already being done to create more realistic heart tissues for 3D Printed Heart Models, and there is reason for hope regarding the possibility of employing this technology to manufacture more complex cardiac structures such as heart valves and dual-chambered miniature hearts. In addition, Parker emphasized the group’s commitment to the research and development of human tissues for use in regenerative treatments.
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