A team of Korean researchers has created a 3D bioprinted patch to treat a heart condition called ischemic heart disease. This patch is attached to the heart to generate new blood vessels and tissues.
The two lead researchers of the project, Professor Park Hoon-Joon of the Seoul St. Mary’s Hospital and professor Jo Dong-woo of the Pohang University of Science & Technology, announced on 9th February that their 3D printed myocardial patch could be breakthroughs for the way doctors treat ischemic heart conditions. Cardiac extracellular matrices were used as the 3D printable bio ink which had cardiac stem cells and mesenchymal stem cells in a double-layer arrangement. The bio ink also contains the vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF), a signal protein that stimulates vasculogenesis and angiogenesis. The complex arrangement of the 3D printable bio ink is what could be the key to recovery from heart conditions.
The patch was transplanted in the body of certain lab animals with a heart-diseased epicardium. The patch not only softens the fibrotic areas which have become hard due to unavailability of blood supply, it also increased the blood capillaries. The stem cells went on to grow into myocardial cells.
As of now, the testing is in the initial stages and the chances of the 5-years survival rate for patients is lower than 50%. The 3D printed myocardial patch gives hope to the researchers that this could be a new treatment for heart problems. Though human heart cannot be restored once damaged, but the [patch certainly raises hopes for a generative treatment of the heart. The research team will work on the next-generation stem cell therapy platform which will incorporate techniques like 3D cell printing and produce stem cell lines. The results of the research study are published in the journal Biomaterials.