Researchers at Harvard create first ever 3D printed heart-on-a-chip

  • Nimish Sany
  • 25 October , 2016

Ever wondered if you can put stop to animal and human testing for drugs in the laboratories? As unsparing as it sounds, the fact remains certain drugs has to be tested on human volunteers. Or should we say, ‘remained’? A team of researchers from Harvard has created a 3D printed chip, rigged with sensors and printed using multiple inks at micrometer resolutions which efficiently mimics the human heart.

3D printing heart-on-a-chip

Heart-on-a-chip integrtaes multi-material printing by incorporating six custom inks. Image:Lori K. Sanders and Alex D. Valentine, Lewis Lab/Harvard University

The latest addition to organ-on-a-chip, a cell culture using an electronic chip to mimic an organ, has got sensors on board to transmit data flawlessly which helps scientists and researchers to study the effects of drug administration on the organ. 3D printing has made the fabrication process less expensive compared to former methods. Also, the need for microscopes and high speed cameras for analyzing the data from the effects of the drug were eliminated as the researchers were able to 3D print sensors right into the multi-ink layers. An excerpt from the Harvard Gazette reads:

The chip contains multiple wells, each with separate tissues and integrated sensors, allowing researchers to study many engineered cardiac tissues at once. To demonstrate the efficacy of the device, the team performed drug studies and longer-term studies of gradual changes in the contractile stress of engineered cardiac tissues, which can occur over the course of several weeks.

“We are pushing the boundaries of three-dimensional printing by developing and integrating multiple functional materials within printed devices,” says Jennifer Lewis, a member of the research team. “This study is a powerful demonstration of how our platform can be used to create fully functional, instrumented chips for drug screening and disease modeling,” she added. 


Nimish Sany: I bleed my thoughts on paper. And if I cant find a paper, blogs serve the purpose just fine.

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