Harvard Researchers Create 3-D Printed Heart on a Chip

Shelby Rogers

Researchers at Harvard University created an entirely 3-D printed organ on a chip.

The heart chip includes integrated sensing. A fully automated, digital procedure produced the chip.

This allows the chip to be customized to collect data in either long-term or short-term studies.

“This new programmable approach to building organs-on-chips not only allows us to easily change and customize the design of the system, but also drastically simplifies data acquisition,” said Johan Ulrik Lind, first author of the paper, postdoctoral fellow at the  School of Engineering and Applied Sciences, and researcher at the Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering at Harvard University.

Researchers developed six unique inks to integrate soft strain sensors within the tissue's microarchitecture. It took one continuous procedure to 3-D print the materials onto the heart on a chip.

[Image Courtesy of Harvard John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences]

“We are pushing the boundaries of three-dimensional printing by developing and integrating multiple functional materials within printed devices,” said Jennifer Lewis, a Harvard bioengineer. “This study is a powerful demonstration of how our platform can be used to create fully functional, instrumented chips for drug screening and disease modeling.”

Lind said collecting data throughout became a crucial part of the chip's development. He and the team needed to find an effective way to collect data without being invasive.

[Image Courtesy of Harvard John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences]

“Researchers are often left working in the dark when it comes to gradual changes that occur during cardiac tissue development and maturation because there has been a lack of easy, noninvasive ways to measure the tissue functional performance,” Lind said. “These integrated sensors allow researchers to continuously collect data while tissues mature and improve their contractility. Similarly, they will enable studies of gradual effects of chronic exposure to toxins.”

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Researchers like Kit Parker, Tarr Family Professor of Bioengineering and Applied Physics at Harvard, said she hopes the innovation "opens new avenues" for tissue engineering, drug screenings and toxicology.

Via Harvard Gazette

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