With some help from 3D printing, a team of scientists was able to create a new, soft artificial heart capable of beating almost like a real human heart. Their accomplishment is considered as a step further in the process of replacing damaged cords without the need of waiting for a viable transplant.
ETH Zurich in Switzerland scientists are behind this new study. They published their current study results in the journal Artificial Organs. The researchers created a prototype heart made out of silicone that replicates a real human cord.
The Soft Artificial Heart, Capable of Beating Very Naturally
The soft artificial heart has left and right ventricles, just as a real one. It also has an extra chamber, that acts as its engine, as it drives an external pump. Namely, pressurized air can inflate and deflate the third chamber, which helps drive the ‘blood’ through the other two ventricles. For their study, the team used a liquid similar in viscosity to blood.
They heart prototype weights some 13.8 ounces and has a volume of 41 cubic inches. This makes it somewhat heavier, but still similar in size to a normal human heart. During testing, it was noted to be capable of beating in quite a natural manner. One quite similar to a real heart rhythm.
However, the prototype only lasted for some 30 minutes before its material broke down. The research team is now working hard on improving its invention.
“[Our] goal is to develop an artificial heart that is roughly the same size as the patient’s own one and which imitates the human heart as closely as possible in form and function,” states Nicholas Cohrs, who is part of the team.
The researchers hope that such an artificial variant could come to one day replace mechanical pumps. These can lead to complications and may sometimes even fail.
Presently, the soft artificial heart prototypes last for some 3,000 beats, so their performance must be significantly increased. One possible way of doing so is by strengthening their base material. Still, even the mere fact of replicating the natural cadence of a real heart in an artificial one is quite a feat.
Cohrs also stated that this was “simply a feasibility test”. One that could help determine a ‘new direction’ in the development of artificial hearts.
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