A team of researchers in the US has created a 3D-printed patch that could to used to help treat patients recovering from a heart attack.
Scientists at the University of Minnesota have been able to 3D-bioprint healthy adult heart cells on to the patch which can then be used to help heal scar tissue that forms after a heart attack.
The study, which has been published in medical journal Circulation Research, explains how the scientists used laser-based 3D-bioprinting to place stem cells derived from an adult human heart on a patch that then began to grow and even beat in synch while in a dish in a lab.
Then, when placed on to a mouse the researchers said they saw a “significant increase” in heart function in four weeks.
The scientists also said that since the patch was made from cells and proteins native to the heart, the patch was absorbed into the body, meaning no further surgery was required.
Brenda Ogle, associate professor of biomedical engineering at the University of Minnesota, said: “This is a significant step forward in treating the number one cause of death in the US.
“We feel that we could scale this up to repair hearts of larger animals and possibly even humans within the next several years.”
Researchers say they hope to next develop a larger patch that could be tested on a pig heart – which is similar in size to a human heart.