3D-printed silicone heart beats like the real thing

28th Jul 2017

Silicone heart transplants are a step closer after Swiss scientists 3D-printed a soft, artificial heart prototype. The researchers ETH Zurich published their findings in the journal Artificial Organs say the silicone heart imitates a human heart “in form and function”.

Heart disease remains the number one killer worldwide, causing 17.3 million deaths each year – a problem exacerbated by a global shortage of heart donors. A custom-made artificial heart would be an invaluable medical advancement that could save countless lives.

The researchers behind the artificial heart, are working on further improving the performance of their new invention as the prototype currently lasts for only around 3,000 beats – or 30 to 45 minutes.

A doctoral student on the team Nicholas Cohrs said the aim 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.”

Weighing 90 grammes, the silicone heart is slightly heavier but around the same size as a human heart.

It features left and right ventricles or chambers, just like a human heart, as well as an extra chamber that drives the external pump – replacing the muscle contraction of the human heart. Pressurised air inflates and deflates this third chamber, designed to pump blood through the ventricles – during testing, a liquid with the same viscosity of blood was used.

Scientists hope the invention will one day replace mechanical pumps – used while people recover from heart failure or wait for a donated heart to become available – which are at risk of failure or causing complications in patients.

To produce a viable artificial organ that can actually save lives, the life of this artificial heart would need to extend and the strength of its material significantly improved. But the development of a soft, 3D-printed heart beating like a human one is a promising development in the medical world.

The invention has raised hopes it will one day replace mechanical pumps which can fail
“This was simply a feasibility test,” says Cohrs.

Anastasios Petrou who was also involved in the research said “I’m now so fascinated by this research. Our goal was not to present a heart ready for implantation but to think about a new direction for the development of artificial hearts. As a mechanical engineer, I would never have thought that I would ever hold a soft heart in my hands”.

Elham Asaad Buaras

Leave a Comment

What is 13 + 4 ?
Please leave these two fields as-is:
IMPORTANT! To be able to proceed, you need to solve the following simple math (so we know that you are a human) :-)

Over 120 people attended a landmark conference on the media reporting of Islam and Muslims. It was held jointly by The Muslim News and Society of Editors in London on September 15.

The Muslim News Awards for Excellence 2015 was held on March in London to acknowledge British Muslim and non-Muslim contributions to the society.

The Muslim News Awards for Excellence 2015 was held on March in London to acknowledge British Muslim and non-Muslim contributions to the society.

The Muslim News Awards for Excellence event is to acknowledge British Muslim and non-Muslim contributions to society. Over 850 people from diverse background, Muslim and non-Muslim, attended the gala dinner.

Latest Tweets