A research team in Israel made a 3D-printed heart from human tissue and vessels.

Have you ever stopped and thought, "How awesome would it be if I could live forever?"

The answer to that question is probably a hearty "yes," because most of us are both afraid of death and haven't yet watched enough "Twilight Zone" to recognize that immortality is kind of a scam.* Well, good news, seekers of everlasting life: A research team in Israel has created a 3D-printed heart that's actually made of human tissue and vessels.

Of course, this doesn't mean you living forever is a lock, yet. This heart is just a prototype at the beginning stages of its journey, but the implications of this research are incredible. While this heart is only fit for rabbit-sized animal, further experimentation may soon lead to larger hearts that could be used for human transplants. Patches that regenerate defective heart tissue, The Times of Israel notes, are also on the table.


“[This is] the first time anyone anywhere has successfully engineered and printed an entire heart replete with cells, blood vessels, ventricles and chambers,” Dr. Tal Dvir, who led the project, told the press.

“People have managed to 3D-print the structure of a heart in the past, but not with cells or with blood vessels."

The team's next challenge is to teach the heart to behave correctly (which seems like the setup to a rom/com if you ask me). Currently, the model heart can contract, but it cannot yet pump blood. After that's figured out, researchers can implant the hearts into animal models to see how they'll respond.

Optimistically, scientists hope that functioning human organs will be able to be printed in hospitals within the next ten years. Although Dvir believes that medical facilities will start with the "simpler organs" first.

One of the coolest things about the new breakthrough? The 3D-printed hearts can use a person's own tissue to create the artificial organ. So once this is a viable option, it'll also reduce the risk of bodies rejecting the organ.

Heart disease is the number one cause of death in the world. Could a 3D-printed heart change all that? We're be(a)tting on it!**

*Or have watched enough Twilight Zone to recognize that immortality is a scam and still think "I could do it better."

**Pun proudly intended.

Simon & Garfunkel's song "Bridge Over Troubled Water" has been covered by more than 50 different musical artists, from Aretha Franklin to Elvis Presley to Willie Nelson. It's a timeless classic that taps into the universal struggle of feeling down and the comfort of having someone to lift us up. It's beloved for its soothing melody and cathartic lyrics, and after a year of pandemic challenges, it's perhaps more poignant now than ever.

A few years a go, American singer-songwriter Yebba Smith shared a solo a capella version of a part of "Bridge Over Troubled Water," in which she just casually sits and sings it on a bed. It's an impressive rendition on its own, highlighting Yebba's soulful, effortless voice.

But British singer Jacob Collier recently added his own layered harmony tracks to it, taking the performance to a whole other level.

Keep Reading Show less
Images courtesy of John Scully, Walden University, Ingrid Scully
True

Since March of 2020, over 29 million Americans have been diagnosed with COVID-19, according to the CDC. Over 540,000 have died in the United States as this unprecedented pandemic has swept the globe. And yet, by the end of 2020, it looked like science was winning: vaccines had been developed.

In celebration of the power of science we spoke to three people: an individual, a medical provider, and a vaccine scientist about how vaccines have impacted them throughout their lives. Here are their answers:

John Scully, 79, resident of Florida

Photo courtesy of John Scully

When John Scully was born, America was in the midst of an epidemic: tens of thousands of children in the United States were falling ill with paralytic poliomyelitis — otherwise known as polio, a disease that attacks the central nervous system and often leaves its victims partially or fully paralyzed.

"As kids, we were all afraid of getting polio," he says, "because if you got polio, you could end up in the dreaded iron lung and we were all terrified of those." Iron lungs were respirators that enclosed most of a person's body; people with severe cases often would end up in these respirators as they fought for their lives.

John remembers going to see matinee showings of cowboy movies on Saturdays and, before the movie, shorts would run. "Usually they showed the news," he says, "but I just remember seeing this one clip warning us about polio and it just showed all these kids in iron lungs." If kids survived the iron lung, they'd often come back to school on crutches, in leg braces, or in wheelchairs.

"We all tried to be really careful in the summer — or, as we called it back then, 'polio season,''" John says. This was because every year around Memorial Day, major outbreaks would begin to emerge and they'd spike sometime around August. People weren't really sure how the disease spread at the time, but many believed it traveled through the water. There was no cure — and every child was susceptible to getting sick with it.

"We couldn't swim in hot weather," he remembers, "and the municipal outdoor pool would close down in August."

Then, in 1954 clinical trials began for Dr. Jonas Salk's vaccine against polio and within a year, his vaccine was announced safe. "I got that vaccine at school," John says. Within two years, U.S. polio cases had dropped 85-95 percent — even before a second vaccine was developed by Dr. Albert Sabin in the 1960s. "I remember how much better things got after the vaccines came out. They changed everything," John says.

Keep Reading Show less