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3D printed hearts 'within a decade'

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A scientist at the University of Louisville in Kentucky believes the biological additive manufacturing will proceed beyond facial implants and be able to create custom-made hearts within a decade.

The Times reports that Stuart Williams - who heads The Cardiovascular Institute, a partnership between the University of Louisville and the city’s Jewish Hospital - admitted the goal was an ambitious one but technology moved quickly.

“If you think when John F. Kennedy said, ‘We’ll put a man on the moon, and bring him back by the end of the decade’, there were a lot of people who laughed at that also, and that was pretty complex,” he told The Times.

Williams’s team has made a “bio-assembly robot”, with which he has said could eventually be used to create replacement hearts for under $US 100,000. The six-axis robot is currently attempting to create components for hearts.

One of the challenges is keeping these parts alive through synthetic blood.

"With complex organs such as the kidney and heart, a major challenge is being able to provide the structure with enough oxygen to survive until it can integrate with the body," Dr Anthony Atala of Wake Forest University told AP earlier in the year.

Image: AP

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