Woven Hearts

Cardiovascular patients take heart!

This is Sandra Tsing Loh with the Loh Down on Science.

Heart problems are notoriously hard to treat. Hearts can’t repair themselves like other organs… But can artificial hearts fill the literal void?

Huibin Chang’s team of researchers at Harvard explored what they thought was the “heart” of the matter. Structure. They believe an artificial heart has to be able to twist in on itself. Like wringing out a towel. That way it can pump enough blood. So they 3D-printed a SPIRAL shaped design and a CIRCULAR one.

Then they coated the printed fibers with heart muscle cells that develop into heart tissue. Results? Fully-developed artificial SPIRAL-shaped hearts were about six percent more efficient at pumping fluids than artificial circular-shaped hearts. 

Understanding how heart structure affects function could direct future heart repair techniques. The researchers believe this is a giant leap forward in the 3-D printing of tissues and organs!

Now that’s something to get pumped about! No gym necessary. 

Reference: Chang, H., Liu, Q., Zimmerman, J. F., Lee, K. Y., Jin, Q., Peters, M. M., Rosnach, M., Choi, S., Kim, S. L., Ardoña, H. A. M., MacQueen, L. A., Chantre, C. O., Motta, S. E., Cordoves, E. M., & Parker, K. K. (2022). Recreating the heart’s helical structure-function relationship with focused rotary jet spinning. Science, 377(6602), 180–185. https://doi.org/10.1126/science.abl6395