Printing Healthy Hearts And Saving Lives At HRI

Scientists from the Heart Research Institute (HRI) are developing a world-first alternative to heart transplants, using “mini-hearts” and a bioprinter.

The lab-created tissue forms a patch, like a band aid, to replace or repair damaged areas of the heart.

Lead researcher Dr Carmine Gentile says it is hoped that once the breakthrough is successfully tested in clinical trials, it will save the lives of the thousands of Australians waiting for a heart transplant. The breakthrough has the potential too to save millions of lives globally.

Dr Gentile spoke to 10 News about his incredible research.

Watch Dr Carmine Gentile talk to 10 News about the mini-hearts

“Over 10,000 Australians are diagnosed with heart failure every year, and only about 120 are lucky enough to receive a donor heart. The sad reality is that most patients will die waiting on the transplant list for a suitable heart,” said Dr Gentile, who works as part of a collaboration between HRI and the University of Technology Sydney (UTS).

“There is a huge gap we are trying to fill, with the use of our technology.”

For people like Scarlett Hack, the technology could be life-changing. When she was just 13, Scarlett had two cardiac arrests and collapsed with end-stage heart failure.

HRI’s breakthrough would mean patients like Scarlett could undergo keyhole surgery at the initial detection of a problem, preventing the need for transplant surgery.

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Dr Gentile said each mini-heart is created from a patient’s own cells and purpose made, for each patient. This is a personalised medicine approach.

“Using mini-hearts like Lego bricks and a 3D bioprinter, we create heart replacement tissues that adapt to the patient’s specific needs to repair the damaged heart,” Dr Gentile explained.

Application of the bioprinted patch would be performed via keyhole surgery, reducing the risk to the patient from open heart surgery.

“We are working on this research because we are passionate about finding new ways to successfully treat and save the lives of patients who suffer from cardiovascular disease,” said Dr Gentile.

“To take this research from the bench to the bedside, we need to scale up from preclinical studies to clinical trials. This will help us prove that we have a powerful tool to save as many patients as possible. We need enough funding to make that happen,” said Dr Gentile.

HRI is appealing for donations ahead of tax time, to help take the treatment through to clinical trials and ultimately, make the treatment available to cardiovascular patients.

Donate to support vital heart research

Please make a tax-deductible donation, and help make the mini-hearts technology a reality. Help thousands of people on the heart transplant waiting list. Donate now

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