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Managing Editor  | May 2017

3-D printed patch can help heal tissue scarred by heart attacks

A team of engineers from the University of Minnesota – Twin Cities, the University of Wisconsin, and the University of Alabama - Birmingham has created a 3-D printed patch that can help heal tissue that has been damaged by a heart attack, according to a report from the Minnesota-Twin Cities website.



Two of the researchers involved are biomedical engineering Associate Professor Brenda Ogle
(right) and Ph.D. student Molly Kupfer (left). (Patrick O’Leary, University of Minnesota)


Heart disease continues to be one of the leading causes of death in the U.S., according to data from the American Heart Association, so this work could have a significant impact on the treatment of and recovery from heart attacks. Heart cells, once damaged, cannot be regrown.


The researchers created a laser-based 3-D bioprinting technique to put stem cells from adult human hearts onto a matrix that grew and beat synchronously in a dish in the lab. The patch was placed on a mouse after a simulated heart attack and it showed increased functional capacity after four weeks.


The article noted, “Since the patch was made from cells and structural proteins native to the heart, it became part of the heart and absorbed into the body, requiring no further surgeries.”


It continued, “This research is different from previous research in that the patch is modeled after a digital, three-dimensional scan of the structural proteins of native heart tissue.  The digital model is made into a physical structure by 3D printing with proteins native to the heart and further integrating cardiac cell types derived from stem cells.”


Using this technique, researchers were able to achieve one micron resolution to mimic heart structures. They are working on a larger patch to implant on a pig heart, which is similar in size to a human heart.


The work was recently published in Circulation Research. The abstract stated:


“Conventional 3-dimensional (3D) printing techniques cannot produce structures of the size at which individual cells interact.


“Here, we used multiphoton-excited 3D printing to generate a native-like extracellular matrix scaffold with submicron resolution and then seeded the scaffold with cardiomyocytes, smooth muscle cells, and endothelial cells that had been differentiated from human-induced pluripotent stem cells to generate a human-induced pluripotent stem cell–derived cardiac muscle patch (hCMP), which was subsequently evaluated in a murine model of myocardial infarction.


“The scaffold was seeded with ≈50 000 human-induced pluripotent stem cell–derived cardiomyocytes, smooth muscle cells, and endothelial cells (in a 2:1:1 ratio) to generate the hCMP, which began generating calcium transients and beating synchronously within 1 day of seeding; the speeds of contraction and relaxation and the peak amplitudes of the calcium transients increased significantly over the next 7 days.


“When tested in mice with surgically induced myocardial infarction, measurements of cardiac function, infarct size, apoptosis, both vascular and arteriole density, and cell proliferation at week 4 after treatment were significantly better in animals treated with the hCMPs than in animals treated with cell-free scaffolds, and the rate of cell engraftment in hCMP-treated animals was 24.5% at week 1 and 11.2% at week 4.


“Thus, the novel multiphoton-excited 3D printing technique produces extracellular matrix–based scaffolds with exceptional resolution and fidelity, and hCMPs fabricated with these scaffolds may significantly improve recovery from ischemic myocardial injury.”


To see the beating cardiac patch from the lab, watch the video below:

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