3D Bioprinted Heart Provides New Tool for Surgeons

April 11, 2024
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3D Bioprinted Heart Provides New Tool for Surgeons


In the moment, surgeons will have an influential novel tool for preparation and training along with the creation of the first full-sized 3D bioprinted model of the human heart.


3D bioprinted heart
Source: College of Engineering CMU

The first full-size 3D bioprinted human heart model has been developed by Adam Feinberg and his organization by using Freeform Reversible Embedding of Suspended Hydrogels (FRESH) approach. The prototype, which was designed from MRI data employing a specially created 3D printer, practically imitates the flexibility of cardiac tissue and sutures. Consequently, the breakthrough exhibits the completion of two years of research which holds both urgent contracts for surgeons, specialists, and also the long-term consequence for the further bioengineered structure analysis.

Modeling incorporates imaging data into the final 3D printed object.
Source: College of Engineering CMU

A needle prints the alginate into hydrogel bath, which is later melted away to leave the finished model.
Source: College of Engineering CMU

The major key of 3D bioprinting is to create the soft-but-rigid polymers that a normal print cannot invent. This technology was contrived in Feinberg’s workshop. FRESH 3D bioprinting applies a needle to inoculate bioink into a soft hydrogel’s tub which strengthens the object as it prints. Consequently, once this technology is accomplished, the exertion of heat brings about the hydrogel to liquefy which remains only the 3D bioprinted material.


Although the versatility and the fidelity of the FRESH procedure have been verified by Feinberg, a professor of biomedical engineering and materials science and engineering, the primary issue to accomplish this discovery was to produce a human heart at full scale. Therefore, a new 3D printer requires custom in making a gel support tub which is large enough for printing at the demanding size, and software also adjusts to maintain the speed and fidelity of the print.


However, many hospitals usually use the 3D printing approach of a patient’s body to help surgeons diagnose and analyze patients and prepare for the realistic method. It would be more effective if these artificial skin materials and biology structures are created as a hard plastic model. Feinberg’s team has developed this heart from a soft and a natural polymer called ‘Alginate’ in providing its properties comparable to existent cardiac tissue. For surgeons, this is possible to allow a model that can be stitched and customized in a way that resembles a real heart. Accordingly, what Feinberg has targeted is to collaborate between surgeons and physicians to refine their technique skills and assure that it is completely prepared for the treatment purposes.


“We can now build a model that not only allows for visual planning, but allows for physical practice,” says Feinberg. “The surgeon can manipulate it and have it actually respond like real tissue, so that when they get into the operating site they’ve got an additional layer of realistic practice in that setting.”

This research illustrates a target about the long path to bioengineering – a practical human body. Feinberg’s team created a soft and biocompatible scaffold-like material in expecting that they will provide the structure in which cells coagulate and form an organ function, making biomedicine closer to the capability to repair or replace full human organs.


“While major hurdles still exist in bioprinting a full-sized functional human heart, we are proud to help establish its foundational groundwork using the FRESH platform while showing immediate applications for realistic surgical simulation,” added Eman Mirdamadi, lead author on the publication.

Published in ACS Biomaterials Science and Engineering, the paper was co-authored by Feinberg’s students Joshua W. Tashman, Daniel J. Shiwarski, Rachelle N. Palchesko, and former student Eman Mirdamadi.

Retrieved from: https://engineering.cmu.edu/news-events/news/2020/11/18-3d-printed-heart.html

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