We just made another step towards replacing damaged human hearts and not needing transplantation. We did this thanks to scientists that have 3D-printed silicone made artificial hart that has ability to beat almost like human heart.
Estimated number of people that suffer from heart failure is 26 million, and currently there is a global shortage of donors. Achieving this is the first step to an invaluable solution to long-term problem.
Scientists from ETH Zurich in Switzerland, ones that conducted this said this heart is able to beat for half an hour before materials break down. They are trying to solve that and improve it.
“[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,” says one of the team, Nicholas Cohrs.
This hearth has both right and left chamber and one extra chamber that is acting as engine by driving the external pump.
It is planned that pressurized air inflates and deflates this third chamber. And than that camber would drive blood through the ventricles. Scientists used liquid with the same viscosity of blood. Weight of the hearth is 390 grams and volume 679 cubic centimeters. With this measures it is a bit heavier than regular human heart. The goal is to replace mechanical pumps which are currently at use when people are recovering from heart failure or are waiting for a heart to be donate, but they are very risky.
The performance of the hearth, as well as the strength of the material will have to be drastically increased, as silicone hearth lasts just for 3000 beats. However, the fact that 3D-printed heart is beating like human hearth right away in the beginning is very admirable.
“This was simply a feasibility test,” says Cohrs. “Our goal was not to present a heart ready for implantation, but to think about a new direction for the development of artificial hearts.”
Although 3D-printed organs probably can not replace real crucial organs, there is hope we could regenerate damaged organ tissue. Scientists have just explained how could gene programming in a sea anemone unlock teaching human stem cells to replace heart tissue. Also earlier this year a team of scientist from Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) used spinach leaves to make functioning heart tissue, complete with veins that could transport blood.
We are really not even near to being able to replace the human hearth, but it is very exciting to think we are making steps closer.