In a groundbreaking achievement, a team of researchers from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) has successfully created a functional 3D printed twin of a human heart. This development is expected to improve the success rate of heart transplants for patients who require them.

This innovation has the potential to save lives, particularly for patients in need of heart transplant surgery. Despite medical advancements, heart transplantation remains one of the riskiest procedures due to the variability of each heart, especially when it is diseased.

The challenge lies in dealing with the patient’s body, which has adapted to the pathology. Consequently, transplanting a new heart can lead to complications that are difficult to assess precisely.

To address this issue, a team of five researchers from MIT has found a way to 3D print functional hearts. Rather than transplanting them as artificial hearts, the team produces a 3D printed twin with the same characteristics as the patient’s heart.

The 3D printed heart can be configured to replicate the defects of the patient’s heart. With this process, the researchers believe that waiting times and the risk of rejection could be significantly reduced. Doctors could conduct preliminary tests to determine how to optimize the transplantation and increase the chances of success.

3D Printed Twin of a Heart

The scientists published an article in the Soft Robotics journal last month to describe the fabrication of the heart. Firstly, they used computed tomography (CT) to scan images of the patient’s heart and create a 3D model of it. They then used the digital model to 3D print the patient’s left ventricle and aorta with a flexible photopolymer resin. The team added soft robotic sleeves to connect the heart to a pump. The pumping motion of the heart is replicated from the patient’s own heartbeat. The blood flow, pressure, size, and shape of the heart are thus reproduced exactly. They can even implant valves that mimic those used to widen arteries in a real heart. The process works well as the researchers tested the 3D printed heart with artificial blood and found that the valves produced results similar to those used in human hearts.

The Future of Heart Transplantation

This development is a significant step forward in the field of heart transplantation. It offers a new approach that could improve the lives of many patients who require heart transplant surgery. The ability to create a 3D printed twin of a patient’s heart will help doctors to assess the patient’s heart and optimize transplantation. The researchers from MIT believe that this breakthrough could reduce waiting times and the risk of complications associated with transplantation.

In conclusion, the team’s achievement is a testament to the power of scientific innovation in advancing medical research. It has the potential to revolutionize the field of heart transplantation and give hope to patients in need of this life-saving procedure.