A heart attack is a scary thing and it can go either way, although usually after the first attack things are never really quite the same. However in the future healing the heart after a heart attack could be a relatively simple procedure of applying a 3D printed patch that has the ability to heal scarred heart tissue.
This is thanks to the work of researchers at the University of Minnesota (via Engadget) where they created a 3D printed patch that can help in these situations. The 3D printed patch will fit stem cells that are based on adult human heart cells to a matrix that is developed around a 3D scan of the heart’s tissues native proteins.
So far based on their experiments, the matrix managed to successfully replicate the structures of regular heart tissue down to 1 micron, and also managed to beat in sync with the heart. However it should be noted that the tests were conducted on mice which means that scaling it up to work on a larger human heart will be much more complicated.
However their tests have shown that the mouse’s heart showed a significant increase in functional capacity in 4 weeks, so we guess that’s promising at least. According to Brenda Ogle, an associate professor of biomedical engineering at the University of Minnesota, “This is a significant step forward in treating the No. 1 cause of death in the U.S. We feel that we could scale this up to repair hearts of larger animals and possibly even humans within the next several years.”