The Heart of the Matter
A biomedical engineer, stem cell engineers, clinical cardiologists, and some 3D printing experts came together to successfully come up with a high-tech solution that could revolutionize cardiology.
Bear in mind that as hundreds of thousands of Americans suffer or die from myocardial infarction, doctors continue to resort to modern advances in pharmaceuticals and technology to find better cures for MI and other life-threatening cardiac conditions. The problem, really, is that heart muscle damaged by a cardiac event will develop scar tissue at the site, reducing heart function to a significant degree.
This is not about specific medications, or catheters or stents or other known interventions that can improve survival rates or save a patient’s life. With the exception of a heart transplant, there may not be any other long-term solution to damaged heart muscle. So comes in our team of researchers aiming to mend broken hearts by means of a special 3D printed scaffold – a stem cell-derived cardiac muscle patch.
From the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities, the team used stem cells derived cardiac muscle and actually mixed those with other cell types needed for blood vessels. This will block the formation of fibroblasts, which produce the scar tissue. They created the patch, a biocomplex of printed layers, and tried it on cardiac arrest-induced mice. This was a comparative study using 2 groups of rodents, half were given the cell mix patch and the other half, cell-free patches.
Significant improvements were seen in the functional capacity of the rodent hearts with crell mix patches after just four weeks. It showed marked reduction in adverse remodeling of damaged heart tissue and preservation of cardiac performance. Measurements of cardiac function, infarct size, apoptosis (or cell death), both vascular and arteriole density, and cell proliferation at week 4 after treatment were significantly better. Continuous electric signal generated across the patch, and then paced, increased the frequency of the heart beats.
This in effect strengthens heart muscle allowing better circulation and more efficient distribution of nutrients to the injured heart areas. By and large the research outcomes looked very promising though more studies are needed to be conclusive about this direction.
3D Printing in Seattle: Influx into Living Tissue
The above research outcome is the result of tissue engineering brought about by amazing 3D printing. Know more how 3D printing can change the outlook of cardiac health and other many bio-engineered fields that can benefit from 3D printing. Visit us in Seattle now.