Scientists develop an artificial heart

The scientists from the Harvard Medical School, Boston developed an artificial heart that can beat in animals. This discovery could be helpful in repairing damaged hearts enabling millions of people around the world live longer, healthier lives.

Steps taken by scientists to develop artificial heart that beats in animals

In order to develop the artificial heart similar to natural heart, scientists developed a new family of hydrogel using a stretchy human protein known as tropoelastin.

  • Led by Dr. Ali Khademhosseini of the HarvardMedicalSchool.
  • Hydrogel are natural protein that are soft and contain a lot of water viz. human tissues.  They can be tuned to attain chemical, biological, mechanical and electrical properties which are essential for regeneration of any human tissue.
  • Though, existent hydrogel did not have the needed elasticity as the natural human heart has.
  • In order to overcome this, the scientists used 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.
  • After developing the hydrogel, then scientists 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 are 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 viz. blood vessels, skeletal muscle, heart valves and vascularized skin.

Note: At present, the best treatment option for patients with major heart damage is an organ transplant.

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Categories: Science and Technology Current Affairs - 2017

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