Broken Hearts Repaired While You Wait

Heart disease is the leading cause of death worldwide, claiming one in three lives, according to the World Health Organization. Replacing a failing heart is expensive, requires a lot of after care and takes a toll on the patient’s system in battling organ rejection with costly immune system suppressant drugs. Transplants are rarely the best answer for failing hearts. But science may have come up with something extraordinary to make heart disease a fear of the past.

Inside a lab that will open in a couple of months in Chicago, a biotech startup will soon begin perfecting the process of 3D-printing human hearts which could  be used in transplants.

“What this is set up to do is to make a patient-specific, fully functioning heart that’s viable for transplant, using the patient’s own cells,” says Steven Morris, founding partner and CEO of the startup, Biolife4D.

Building the heart one layer at a time, they start with a patients own blood cells. By scanning the patient’s heart with an MRI machine, they can image an exact copy. Then, using a process that has been around about a decade, they can transform blood cells, into stem cells, then into heart cells. These cells are mixed into a hydrogel that makes a bio-ink that can be used in a specialzed 3D printer. Those with failing organs can take more at