November 04 2008 / by John Heylin
Category: Gadgets Year: 2010 Rating: 1
French scientists unveiled the world’s first fully functional artificial heart at the cost of about $192,000 a unit. The heart, which gets some of its design from modern aerospace research, consists of two pumps which help regulate flow.
The reason this is called the first fully functional artificial heart is that, unlike other hearts currently made, it comes equipped with sensors which can increase or decrease blood flow depending on the persons level of activity. “The same tiny sensors that measure air pressure and altitude in an airplane or satellite are also in the artificial heart. This should allow the device to respond immediately if the patient needs more or less blood.”(CNN) Current models require an outside regulator to adjust blood flow to the body (and only consist of one pump).
Although clinical trials have yet to begin, it has already been tested on large animals and is built out of materials already existing in artificial hearts today, namely of polymers and pig tissue. And while heart disease itself kills 17 million people a year while only 2,200 heart transplants were performed in 2006 in the US. The hope is that down the road we may be able to make a cheaper and safer heart for the millions instead of the thousands.
The real benefit of artificial body parts is that there is no foreign DNA for the applicants body to reject. Current heart transplant patients have to take anti-rejection medication their whole life which sometimes doesn’t work. On top of that, only 60% of heart transplant patients live longer than 10 years after their surgery. So unless stem cells manage to swoop in and save the day, artificial is really the way to go.
Images courtesy of AP Press