Medical Research Council - London Institute of Medical Sciences

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Combining real heart tissue with robotics to create a life-mimicking prosthetic heart

01 April 2020

Take Heart

It’s always best to do a trial run before any big endeavour. And heart surgery is a big endeavour that’s becoming more common, as more and more people around the world live to an older age and rates of heart disease rise. Prosthetic heart valves and other implants are increasingly in-demand, so there’s a real need to find reliable ways of testing their efficacy before putting them in place. A team of engineers have now designed an artificial heart that offers a realistic testing platform for new devices. The bionic heart (shown layer-by-layer under magnetic resonance imaging) consists of soft robotic material that inflates and deflates to pulse like the real thing, layered over the structure of a real biological heart. It could allow future treatments to be tested much more safely and quickly than before, and with further development could eventually lead to an artificial heart for in-need patients.

Written by Anthony Lewis

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