A Beating, 3D-Bioprinted Cardiac Patch Heals Broken Hearts

Biomedical engineers from the University of Minnesota have made a significant step forward in treating the number one cause of death in the U.S. by creating a 3D-bioprinted patch that can help heal scarred heart tissue after a heart attack. The researchers used laser-based 3D-bioprinting techniques to incorporate stem cells derived from adult human heart cells on a matrix that began to grow and beat synchronously in a dish in the lab. When the cell patch was placed on a mouse following a simulated heart attack, the researchers saw an increase in functional capacity after just four weeks. Since the patch was made from cells and structural proteins native to the heart, it became part of the heart and absorbed into the body, requiring no further surgeries. The researchers are already beginning the next step to develop a larger patch that they would test on a pig heart, which is similar in size to a human heart.