3D printing is certainly close to the hearts of many today who have been affected so positively by the technology—and often in monumental ways, like parents watching their babies being given a lease on a more normal life thanks to 3D printed models used before and during surgery; children and adults receiving incredible and affordable 3D printed prosthetics; and other complex innovations such as 3D printed ears and even complicated spleen surgeries offering miraculous results.
But now 3D printing technology and the heart are much more closely associated, it would seem, as Celprogen, a global stem research and therapeutics company, has made what truly is a stunning announcement: they have 3D printed hearts using PLA scaffolds filled with adult human cardiac stem cells. As they forge ahead with this latest discovery in regenerative medicine, what we are now looking at is the potential for a 3D printed heart that could be used in the future for transplants.
“Celprogen is a biotech company that actually thrives on doing stem cell research and finding potential therapeutic agents which is like potential medicines for treatment of cancer,” explained CEO Jay Sharma.
Coated and then ‘seeded’ with the human heart stem cells, the 3D printed hearts created by Celprogen researchers are made with two T225 human Cardiac Stem Cells 36099-26-T225, and with human adult cardiac cells 36044-15-T225, with the scaffold coated with ECM prior to seeding the cells. The employment of such a flexible scaffold created with PLA means that the heart cells should potentially be able to contract.
Headquartered in Torrance, California, Celprogen is known for their portfolio of therapeutic products, along with research tools like genetic engineering technologies, stem cell technologies for regenerative medicine, and bio-engineering products for tissue & organ transplants.
The 3D printed heart project is just one of many as Celprogen is divided into four departments:
- Life science
The company came into inception as Sharma looked to buy some stem cells for research and realized ‘there wasn’t anything out there.’
“That’s when I started isolating stem cells, and I started putting together a program where we would be able to not only isolate the stem cells but also then to culture them,” said Sharma.
Stem cell research is carried out in their life sciences department. The company’s stem cells are shipped around the world and can be used for anything from bone marrow to heart cells—and Celprogen is also quite unique in that they carry cancer stem cells. The company analyzes adult stem cells at their lab and then expands them further.
“We want to characterize them first to see if they have all the unique features,” said Sharma, in discussing how his researchers analyze stem cells initially, then study or store them at freezing temperatures.
The company holds a substantial inventory of stem cells for studying, as well as for working for pharmaceutical companies and performing testing.
“We do contract research work for pharmaceutical companies where we utilize our cancer stem cells and stem cells for their drug development programs,” said Sharma.
On the therapeutic side of the company, Celprogen synthesizes their own molecules for treatment processes, explains Sharma. The idea is to continue with drug discovery research that will one day help ‘beat cancer’ as they study malignant cancer cells and explore why tumors behave the way they do—including why they grow back so aggressively in many cases. In the Celprogen devices department, the researchers use 3D printing to make numerous devices for research, and for growing cells in 3D cultures, where they are able to recreate the conditions inside the human body very closely. From the cosmetics division, Celprogen also offers a new product which actually stimulates hair follicles to grow, offering the potential to greatly help those suffering from baldness.
As they continue on their work in bioprinting, the Celprogen team is currently in the process of building a specialized 3D printer that they hope will one day be able to be able to fabricate organs. In building their own printer, they will have a much better process in creating 3D printed cells and organs.
“I think everyone is moving toward organ cultures as it provides a very unique model system that everyone will want to get their hands on,” explained Sharma.
Certainly we will be hearing a great deal more about these 3D printed hearts as research and development progresses further at Celprogen—obviously something we can count on happening. You can also find out more now about Celprogen and their progressive technology here, as well as checking out the informative video below which gives an in-depth explanation about each of their four departments. Discuss this incredible new technology further in the 3D Printed Heart forum over at 3DPB.com.
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