Wondering how you could use 3D printing to some good use? Turns out, 3D printing can make everything simpler, from your home to the factories to even your health.
3D printing can help in health also. Here is how.
The Health Example: Using 3D Printing to Prevent Heart Attacks
How healthy is your heart?
More than 610,000 people fall prey to them every year, according to the American Heart Association. That is as many as one in four deaths – and often, these could be avoided, if we had the right medical equipment.
Three-dimensional (3D) printing has been around for quite some time now. Hearts, printed using 3D printers, have already revolutionized surgery and treatment. However, these recent ideas present something new.
The method is to heal the heart of a person who has suffered a heart attack. To understand this, we first need to understand what happens during a heart attack.
During a heart attack, the tissues of the heart are damaged. The blood flow to the heart is cut off, and consequently the cells die. Since these heart muscle cells cannot be replaced, the body makes up for their loss by forming scar tissues. However, scar tissues are weaker than the heart muscle cells, and the heart may not function as it should, which can lead to increased risks of heart diseases and heart failure.
A study conducted by a team of researchers at the Universities of Minnesota, Wisconsin and Alabama, it was observed that the creation of a 3D-bioprinted patch could help scar tissues heal after a heart attack.
The research team included significant names like Libang Yang, Paul J. Campagnola and Vladimir G. Fast.
They used to laser-based 3D bio printing techniques for incorporation of heart stem cells on to a matrix.
These cells, originally derived from an adult human, were then made to expand and beat for some time in a lab dish. The study has been recently published in a journal by the American Heart Association, ‘Circulation Research.’
It is quite possible that using the rapidly-advancing technologies, the scope of this study can be widened and soon will be able to heal the hearts of larger animals and even humans.
During the initial research, it was tested on a mouse who was made to suffer a simulated heart attack. After the lab-grown stem cells, in the form of a patch, were placed on the mouse heart, the researchers observed a significant increase in the heart’s functional activities in just a month. The great advantage of these patches is that they are highly absorbable by the body since they are made of natural tissues, which automatically reduces the probability of more surgeries.
The next step is to scale the research up and a plan to test a similar but larger patch on a pig is already in motion.
Hopefully, with successful trials, it can be used to heal human hearts within a decade.
Success could not have been achieved without the precision and the high resolution of 3D printing techniques. The creation of this patch was only possible because of a three dimensional digital scan of the heart’s structural proteins on which the researchers based the patch on.