Scientists in Israel have engineered a tiny living heart no bigger than a quarter. It’s the first ever made using a 3-D printer. Typically, these devices build up layers of a material, like melted plastic, to create a solid object. But in this instance, researchers fed a special gel containing human cells into their 3-D printer. It printed the cells out layer by layer in the shape of a human heart.
The organ is small and can’t beat or pump blood. But it’s a big step toward creating custom organs for people who need them. The organs would be made from the people’s own cells. “The dream is that one day a 3-D printed heart will completely match to the biology of the patient,” says Nadav Noor, who worked on the project at Tel Aviv University.