An artificial heart that beats in animals was developed by the scientists at Harvard Medical School led by Ali Khademhosseini. The development could help in repairing damaged hearts enabling millions of people around the world live longer, healthier lives.
Scientist presented the development at the 247th National Meeting & Exposition of the American Chemical Society (ACS) held on 19 March 2014. ACS is the largest scientific society of world.
How the artificial heart was developed
Scientists in order to develop the artificial heart similar to natural heart developed a new family of hydrogel using a stretchy human protein called tropoelastin.
The hydrogel are natural protein which are soft and contain a lot of water like human tissues. Also hydrogel can be tuned to attain chemical, biological, mechanical and electrical properties which are essential for regeneration of any human tissue. However, existent hydrogel did not have the needed elasticity as the natural human heart have.
In order to overcome this, scientists uses a stretchy human protein called tropoelastin to give the newly developed hydrogel the much needed resilience and strength that is important in keeping intact the elasticity of the natural heart.
Upon the newly developed hydrogel, scientists then developed the artificial cells. To make sure the cells form the right structure scientists used 3-D printing and micro engineering techniques to create patterns in the gels. These patterns coax the cells to grow the way the researchers want them to.
These newly developed hydrogel is micro patterned and elastic and can be further used as cardiac patches. This elastic natural hydrogel can be used for the regeneration of other tissues such as blood vessels, skeletal muscle, heart valves and vascularized skin.
Currently, the best treatment option for patients with major heart damage is an organ transplant.
Who: Ali Khademhosseini