Saturday, 18 November, 2017

3D-printed artificial heart beats just like the real thing

Researchers 3D print a soft artificial heart that works a lot like a real one 3D-printed artificial heart beats just like the real thing
Marlene Weaver | 15 July, 2017, 02:40

Artificial hearts and other devices created to keep blood flowing typically take the place of damaged heart, while the patient awaits a donor organ or for their own heart to recover.

Although the heart worked in a similar fashion to a real human heart, the material could only withstand the strain of pumped circulation for roughly 3,000 beats, or for a period of 30 to 45 minutes.

Researchers in Europe have created a soft artificial heart that mimics the real thing. Sometimes, however, the mechanical parts of the pump can cause unwanted complications that can ruin the operation, threatening the life of the patient. It weighs 390 grams (the average human heart is about 310 grams), and has a volume of 679 cubic centimeters (a size comparable to the human heart).

GIC-backed GLP chooses Chinese group's $16b offer in Asia's biggest buyout
That is slightly above the S$2.70 price that GLP shares last traded at on Wednesday, prior to a trading halt Thursday morning. GLP then hired JPMorgan as its financial adviser and Allen & Gledhill as its legal adviser to work on the review.

Each year, about 26 million people worldwide suffer a heart failure and donors barely cover a fraction of the demand. With that said, the team says this proof of concept shows a possible path forward when it comes to artificial hearts. Like a human heart, it has a left and right ventricle, but they're not separated by a septum. As the chamber is inflated and deflate by pressurized air, it pumps the fluid from the chambers. However, it still has one problem: it now lasts for about only 3,000 beats, which corresponds to a lifetime of half to three quarters of an hour. Researchers at ETH Z├╝rich made the heart and tested its performance on a hybrid mock circulation. It doesn't help that the human body also has a tendency to reject the metal and plastic instruments now in use, which look more like auto parts than organic tissue. The same techniques that go into making a robot arm that flexes and turns like a real one can go into making more complex, subtle organs - like the heart, as Swiss researchers have demonstrated. "I'm now so fascinated by this research that I would very much like to continue working on the development of artificial hearts".

This is definitely a solid approach, and it could inspire the development of other artificial organs as well. Of course, the tensile strength of the material and the performance would have to be enhanced significantly.

"As a mechanical engineer, I would never have thought that I would ever hold a soft heart in my hands", said Anastasios Petrou, a doctoral student on the project.

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