Científicos israelíes imprimen en 3D un corazón hecho con tejido humano

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Los investigadores auguran que en una década será posible implantar órganos personalizados

Investigadores israelíes han logrado imprimir en 3D un corazón “vivo” a partir de tejido humano. Un órgano completo, con cavidades y vasos sanguíneos, que abrirá la puerta a los trasplantes personalizados para cada paciente, según los investigadores Tal Dvir y Assaf Shapira de la Facultad de Ciencias George S.Wise de la Universidad de Tel Aviv. La gran ventaja de estos órganos es que pondrían fin al temido rechazo, que requiere de una medicación específica para evitarlo.

“Que sepamos, hasta ahora todos los corazones que se había impreso utilizando esta técnica procedían de materiales sintéticos”, explica el profesor Dvir. Para conseguirlo, los científicos separaron células del tejido graso de un paciente y mediante un proceso avanzado de ingeniería genética, las transformaron en células madre. Gracias a esas células los investigadores consiguieron crear músculo cardíaco y vasos sanguíneos que mezclaron con líquido compuesto por biomateriales del propio paciente. Ese líquido, utilizado a modo de tinta y conforme a las instrucciones introducidas en un ordenador, les permitió recrear en el laboratorio, en 3D, el corazón humano de forma artificial.

GENERACIÓN DE TEJIDOS ADAPTADOS

Fuente: Advanced Science News. / WILEY-VCH Verlag GmbH & Co. KGaA, Weinheim. NACHO CATALÁN 

Medicina del futuro para la que han sido imprescindibles las imágenes del corazón logradas con tomografía y que han sido utilizadas como una especie de planos. "Este método nos permite imprimir un corazón de cualquier tamaño”, dijo el profesor Shapira durante la presentación en Tel Aviv, en la que los científicos israelíes imprimieron un micro corazón del tamaño de una uña. “Es la primera vez que se logra un corazón completo con vasos sanguíneos, ventrículos, aurículas… Se habían impreso tejidos simples y también corazonesm pero no con células y vasos naturales”, asegura el director del proyecto.

Los expertos explican que la dificultad para crear un órgano de estas características del tamaño de un adulto radica en la cantidad de tejido necesario y en que aún hay que enseñarle a comportarse como un corazón humano. Las células de este corazón en 3D palpitan aunque no laten. Se contraen pero aún no son capaces de bombear, con lo que los científicos aún tendrán que introducir modificaciones en el modelo para que “madure” y su comportamiento al latir se asemeje al natural. El estudio completo lo han publicado este lunes en la revista especializada Advanced Science y según los autores acerca un poco más la posibilidad de hacer realidad el trasplante de órganos creados a partir de la bioimpresión de los propios tejidos.

Pero para alcanzar ese horizonte aún queda mucho camino por recorrer. Los investigadores calculan que en uno o dos años estarán listos para dar el siguiente paso: implantar en ratas o conejos este tipo de corazón para estudiar si funciona eficazmente. De momento, estudian en el laboratorio su desarrollo hasta que las células se conviertan en adultas y estén seguros de que podrán ser implantadas con éxito.

Otra aplicación prometedora del proyecto es la de los infartos de miocardio. Los investigadores apuntan que podrán imprimir también lo que llaman "parches de células cardíacas latentes", que podrían usarse para restablecer las partes del tejido cardíaco afectadas por el infarto.

Para el profesor Dvir, no es ciencia ficción pensar en un futuro no muy lejano en el que los hospitales estén dotados de impresoras con tecnología 3D —como sucede ya en el campo de las prótesis y otros tipos de tejido— gracias a las que diseñar a la carta tejidos humanos, órganos y todo tipo de biomateriales que los pacientes necesiten. “Dentro de una década es probable que sean procedimientos de rutina”, dice.

Hace años que los científicos ven en la bioimpresión la medicina del futuro. Investigadores de todo el mundo desarrollan métodos para imprimir en 3Destructuras complejas a partir de tejidos artificiales y células que permitan avanzar en los tratamientos personalizados de diferentes enfermedades. En 2012, el profesor Jonathan Butcher, de la Universidad de Cornell en los Estados Unidos, logró imprimir la primera válvula cardíaca. Un logro en el que siguen trabajando para que algún día puedan sustituir a las naturales y que pronto comenzará a probarse en ovejas.

Las enfermedades cardiovasculares son la principal causa de muerte en los países desarrollados. En España por delante incluso del cáncer y las enfermedades respiratorias.

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