A Company Creates the First 3D Printed Mini Heart

BIOLIFE4D, the Chicago startup, demonstrated the ability to 3D print a mini heart.
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3D rendered heart with valves SomkiatFakmee/iStock

3D printing is transforming all industries from space to construction. Now we can add healthcare to the list. 

BIOLIFE4D, the biotech company based out of Chicago, announced it has successfully demonstrated the ability to 3D bioprint a mini human heart, a big step in someday printing out a full-sized human heart that can be used for a transplant. 


Mini heart printed with the structure of a full-sized heart 

In a press release, BIOLIFE4D said the milestone was achieved at its JLABS research facility in Houston. It was led by the company's Chief Science Officer Dr. Ravi Birla. The mini heart was printed with the structure of a full-sized heart, including four internal chambers. It replicates partial functions of a full-sized heart which the researchers said was the closet anyone has gotten to producing a functioning heart via 3D bioprinting.

“We are extremely proud of what we have accomplished, from the ability to 3D bioprint human cardiac tissue last summer to a mini heart with full structure now. These milestones are a testament to the hard work of our team and the proprietary process we have developed that enables this type of scientific achievement,” said Birla in a press release.  “We believe we are at the forefront of whole heart bioengineering, a field that has matured quickly over the last year, and well-positioned to continue our rapid scientific advancement.”

BIOLIFE4D created a special bioink

To print the mini heart, researchers at BIOLIFE4D create a bioink using a specific composition of different extracellular matrix compounds that replicates the properties of a heart. It also created a bioprinting algorithm. When the two were combined it was able to bioprint a heart.

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The company said with that milestone under its belt it is now prepared to work toward printing a full-scale human heart. Earlier this year the company was able to 3D biorpint various individual heart components such as valves, ventricles, blood vessels, and human cardiac tissue

“This is an incredibly exciting time for BIOLIFE4D, and we are so proud of Dr. Birla and the team for this tremendous accomplishment,” said Steven Morris, CEO, BIOLIFE4D in the same press release. “We began this journey with an end goal of developing a technology that has the potential to save lives, and we are a step closer to that today. We will continue our work until we are able to 3D bioprint full-sized hearts for viable for transplant, and change the way heart disease is treated forever.”

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