A group of researchers have successfully 3D printed a beating heart ventricle, according to a report on 3DPrinting.com.

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Researchers at Harvard’s School of Engineering and Applied Sciences (SEAS) and the Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering have made a groundbreaking discovery in the field of regenerative therapeutics. They have successfully created a functional heart ventricle using a unique fiber-infused gel ink. This ink, known as Fiber-Infused Gel (FIG) ink, mimics the rhythmic beating of a human heart and enables heart muscle cells to be 3D printed in the shape of a ventricle.

What sets FIG ink apart is its ability to maintain a 3D shape without the need for additional support materials or scaffolds. This is achieved through a rotary jet spinning technique that creates microfiber materials resembling cotton candy. These fibers are then incorporated into a hydrogel ink. By controlling the printing direction, the researchers can guide the alignment of cardiomyocytes, the cells responsible for heart muscle contractions, within the printed structure. Through electrical stimulation, they observed synchronized contractions that closely resemble the pumping action of real heart ventricles.

The implications of this research are vast. It opens up possibilities for creating heart valves and dual-chambered miniature hearts, among other things. This could potentially revolutionize the field of regenerative therapeutics and provide new avenues for drug safety testing and predicting clinical outcomes.

This breakthrough is part of a larger effort to utilize additive manufacturing to build human tissues and organs for medical purposes. The researchers at Harvard are developing a range of tools to advance this technology, and FIG ink is just one of their many achievements.

For those interested in diving deeper into the details, the research paper titled “Fiber-infused gel scaffolds guide cardiomyocyte alignment in 3D-printed ventricles” can be found in Nature Materials. Additionally, you can share your thoughts on this breakthrough on Harvard’s Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn pages. Make sure to also sign up for their weekly additive manufacturing newsletter to stay up to date with the latest stories in the field.

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