Scientists in Israel unveiled a 3D print of a heart with human tissue and vessels on Monday, calling it a first and a "major medical breakthrough" that advances possibilities for transplants.
Past researchers had been able to print simple tissues without blood vessels, the team said. This development was the first time "anyone anywhere has successfully engineered and printed an entire heart replete with cells, blood vessels, ventricles and chambers," Tal Dvir of Tel Aviv University told The Jerusalem Post.
Dvir and his team reported their findings Monday in Advanced Science.
Current 3D printers are also limited by the size of their resolution and another challenge will be figuring out how to print all small blood vessels.
But while the current 3D print was a primitive one and only the size of a rabbit's heart, "larger human hearts require the same technology," said Dvir.
The development is being touted as a "major breakthrough" in medicine and one that could help battle heart disease, the leading cause of death in the United States, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
3D printing has opened up possibilities in numerous fields, provoking both promise and controversy.