3D printed replacement body parts are already saving lives and helping to offer new therapies for otherwise crippling conditions. Yet, in practice this has been limited to plastic replacements for bones and other structural components in the body. Printing a soft tissue, vascularized, complicated organ like the heart is still a ways away, but researchers at the Cardiovascular Innovation Institute, a project between University of Louisville, Kentucky and Jewish Hospital & St. Mary’s HealthCare, are already working toward this project. Their goal is to 3D print a human heart from a donor’s own cellular starter, and they have already printed heart valves and basic vasculature that can be integrated into a finished product.
Here’s an Associated Press video report from the labs doing the groundbreaking research: