British researchers are developing patches made of stem cells to repair congenital heart defects – and if they work as hoped, the patches could eliminate the need for thousands of children to undergo repeated heart surgeries throughout their lives. These cells can be 3D bioprinted into whatever shape and size is needed to repair a valve abnormality or mend a hole. After the patch is sewn in place via the surgery, the cells should help repair the child’s heart tissue – without putting them at risk of rejection. “We are trying to create living tissue, whether it’s a valve or a blood vessel or a patch, that will grow with the child, and that does not deteriorate,” said Massimo Caputo, a professor of congenital heart surgery at the University of Bristol, who is developing the new technique.

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