Biomedical engineering researchers have utilized the power of 3D printing to develop a bandage for the heart. The patch, when placed on a mouse's heart following a simulated cardiac event, was able to be absorbed and improved heart function. The findings were published in the latest version of Circulation Research.
Focusing on instances of heart attacks, which leave the heart covered in scar tissue and decrease heart function, the researchers from the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities, University of Wisconsin-Madison and University of Alabama-Birmingham utilized a 3D bioprinting technique that used stem cells from an adult human heart and placed them on a matrix, where the cells grew, beat synchronously in a dish and formed a patch.
"We were quite surprised by how well it worked given the complexity of the heart," said Brenda Ogle, an associate professor of biomedical engineering at the University of Minnesota. "We were encouraged to see that the cells had aligned in the scaffold and showed a continuous wave of electrical signal that moved across the patch."
The patch was absorbed into the mouse's body and improved heart function within four weeks.
"This is a significant step forward in treating the No. 1 cause of death in the U.S.," said Ogle. "We feel that we could scale this up to repair hearts of larger animals and possibly even humans within the next several years."