Heart attacks affect more than a million Americans every year. Thankfully, current medical advances have increased the survival rate of heart attack thanks to new methods of pumping blood throughout a patient's body. A cardiologist might give a patient medication to clear or loosen blockages. Or a doctor might insert a catheter to remove the clot, or place stents in the artery so it stays open.
However, often times these methods cause damage to the heart tissue. This trauma results in scar tissue on the heart, interfering with the hearts functionality. It can eventually lead to heart failure. Previously, there was no long term solutions to a damaged heart besides a heart transplant, but 3D printing could revolutionize the future of cardiology. Brenda Ogle, an associate professor of biomedical engineering at the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities, has utilized 3D printing technology to create a patch a doctor could apply to mend a patient’s broken heart.
By mixing stem cells made from cardiac muscle with naturally occurring cells needed for blood vessels, the formation of scar tissue cells is prevented. The preventing scar tissue development on the heart allows it to recover from a heart attack much more successfully. Ogle and her team of 3D printing experts, clinical cardiologists and stem cell engineers have successfully demonstrated the patch on mice. First, cardiac arrest was induced on the mice. After a cell patch was placed on the mouse, researchers observed a functional capacity of the heart after just four weeks.
Picture via APIENZA UNIVERSITY/SCIENCE PHOTO LIBARY