Dvir told AFP that the researchers hope to transplant them into animal models in about a year.
The researchers noted that heart transplants are the only form of treatment for people with end-stage heart failure and that many sick people die while waiting for a transplant, which can take six months or more.
The scans generated high-resolution constructs of heart, with patches that match the anatomical and biochemical features of the patient, thus reducing the chance of rejection or malfunctioning in the future transplantations.
In this research, the cells for 3D printing were taken from a biopsy of fatty tissue.
Up until now, scientists in regenerative medicine have not been able to "print" a heart with blood vessels, only simple tissues.
The heart scientists printed couldn't be used in a human transplant operation. The cells in the 3D print of a heart are able to contract, however, they're not able to pump yet.
When they do benefit, they can fall victim to their bodies rejecting the transplant - a problem the researchers are seeking to overcome.
The heart, which is similar to a rabbit heart in size, has demonstrated the potential of the 3D printing technology for producing personalized tissues and organs.
Dvir's team said larger hearts could be developed using this same process. The cells were reprogrammed to become pluripotent stem cells that could then be efficiently differentiated into cardiac or endothelial cells.
Although the 3D human heart represents a promising step towards transplant engineering, further research is needed.
Researchers must now teach the printed hearts "to behave" like real ones.
"The biocompatibility of engineered materials is crucial to eliminating the risk of implant rejection, which jeopardizes the success of such treatments", Dvir said. Our hope is that we will succeed and prove our method's efficacy and usefulness. When the integration with the patient is complete the synthetic bio-scaffolding would begin a disintegration process, which would then leave space for the living organ to fully accommodate itself in its new home.
However, the ultimate goal is to have "organ printers in the finest hospitals around the world, and these procedures will be conducted routinely" within the next 10 years, Dvir says.
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