Last updated 2/08/20
Heart 2.0 Progress: 20%
|Phase 2||Functional replacement heart (internal)|
|Phase 3||Effective cardiac stem cell therapies|
|Phase 4||Functional lab grown replacement heart|
|Phase 5||Lab grown heart transplantation becomes the norm|
|0.1||February 7, 2021||– Initial Upload|
|Project Name||Project Type||Technology||Project Status|
|Heart Transplant||Procedure, Research||Surgical||Ongoing|
|First 3D Bioprinted Heart With Blood Vessels||Research||Stem Cell, 3D Printing, Bioprinting||Ongoing|
|Cardiac Stem Cell Transplant||Research||Surgical, Stem Cell||Ongoing|
|Mini Human Heart Organoid||Research||Stem Cell||Ongoing|
|Synthetic 3D Printed Heart||Research||3D Printing||Ongoing|
|Carmat Bionic Heart||Product||Surgical, Robotics, 3D Printing||Ongoing|
How close are we to Heart 2.0?
With cardio vascular disease being the world’s leading cause of death — research into the subject is one of the most heavily researched clinical fields.
Despite heart disease being the world biggest killer, cardiovascular related mortalities have been falling thanks to education and technology. The U.S. and other countries have made dramatic progress in lowering mortality from cardiovascular diseases, which include heart disease and stroke. In the U.S., the mortality rate has fallen from 590 deaths per 100,000 people in 1983 to 253 in 2013. Successful heart transplants and cardiac technologies have played a big role in driving those numbers down. Research into recreating the heart is accelerating at an exciting rate too thanks to three core innovations: stem cell organoid research, 3D bioprinting, and synthetic hearts.
Transplanting the human heart
Heart transplantation is the process through which an an old failing heart is surgically replaced with a donor heart.
The surgery is a selective process reserved for the elderly and those with cardiac defects. If certain criteria is met then finding a donor heart match will depend on blood-type, height/weight, and geographic area. On average in the US there is a 118 day wait time for a donor heart and 3,100 people waitlist. Studies have show that there are disproportionate wait times for African Americans waiting for a transplant. So far, approximately 25,000 people have received heart transplants in the US.
There are a number of reasons that one might need a heart transplant:
- A weakening of the heart muscle (cardiomyopathy)
- Coronary artery disease
- Heart valve disease
- A congenital heart defect)
- Dangerous recurring abnormal heart rhythms (ventricular arrhythmias) not controlled by other treatments
- Failure of a previous heart transplant
Heart transplants are an extremely risky procedure, even after a successful operation there is still the serious potential risk of rejection. Further, immunosuppressive medication that need to be taken for the rest of the patient’s life can increase infection, cancer, and kidney damage rates. Worldwide, the overall survival rate for the operation is 85% after one year and about 69% after five years for adults.
Recreating the human heart
3D bioprinting is a method where researchers use 3D printing techniques to layer sheets of engineered stem cells into biomatter. Although this method is in its infancy, the scaling of 3D bioprinting techniques could lead to organ production on a level that ends shortages. In 2019 scientists from Tel Aviv University were able to 3D bio-print a portion of a patient’s heart that included functioning blood vessels. In the short term, Tel Aviv University scientists believe this method will be used to 3D print personalized cardiac patches. Long term, 3D bioprinting will likely become and important an important step in the upcoming synthetic biology revolution.
Organoids are miniature versions of organs grown from stem cells that represent the organ at the development stage, in vitro. Generally, they are tiny structures generally no larger than a pea that mimic the cell arrangement of a fully grown organ. Although we cannot yet grow them to the size of adult replacements, through organoid research we can better understand the development cycle and the effects of disease on organs. In 2020, researchers at Michigan State University successfully grew mini heart organoids. By mimicking embryonic and fetal development environments and providing biological instructions, the stem cells were able to self assemble into the functioning organoids. MSU researchers believe that this development will be a critical tool to research congenital heart defects going forward. Recent insights into complex organoids called assembloids, further open the door to the possibility of lab grown organs.
Since the early 1950s, scientists have worked to replicate the function and anatomy of the human heart through synthetic hearts. Up until recently, synthetic hearts have largely been simple external pumping mechanisms. But new developments in 3D printing mean that detailed synthetic organ models could functionally replace static organ parts someday soon. In 2020, researchers at Carnegie Melon copied an patient’s heart model and 3D printed a near-functional gelatinous model. Carmat, a french biotech company, will begin selling the world’s first bionic heart on the European market in late 2021. Although the heart is not meant to be a permanent replacement, it can significantly improve the odds of patients far down on the donor waiting list. Carmat’s heart has already been clinically trialed with one successful implant dating back to 2018.
Section coming soon.
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