Scientists from ETH Zurich developed the first entirely soft artificial heart, designed to overcome major setbacks while using traditional, mechanical parts in currently used blood pumps. These parts are prone to complications, and when a patient relies on them for a pulse, complications can be life-threatening.
"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," explained doctoral student Nicholas Cohrs who developed the silicone heart.
The new artificial heart is made of silicone via 3D printing and a long-wax casting technique. It beats just like a human heart does, but so far the heart can only beat for 30 to 45 minutes. Cohrs and his team are improving this lifespan to someday develop a heart that can be ready for implantation.
"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 from another lab that worked on evaluating the heart's abilities. "I'm now so fascinated by this research that I would very much like to continue working on the development of artificial hearts."
Source: ETH Zurich