Doctors and researchers at the University of Louisville are working on 3D printing a functioning human heart out of a patient’s own fat cells, reports the AP.
That might sound like a complex and intractable approach, but Dr. Stuart Williams of the university’s “Bioficial Heart Program” says it’s much easier than you might think: “The heart is one of the easiest — if not the easiest — tissues and organs to print because it’s made up of so few cells that have really only one major function, and that is to contract, to beat.”
It’s especially important that the heart is made out of a patient’s own cells because this helps prevent the patient’s body from rejecting it.
Williams says that the most difficult part of this process will be to get the heart’s components to work together in concert to move blood throughout the body.
Here’s a picture from the manufacturing process, in which a heart is being built layer by layer from bottom to top. The AP’s full video report is below that.