Engineers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology have combined synthetic material with real heart tissue to create a device that can test prosthetic heart valves given to patients with heart disease.
This bionic “heart” uses robotic actuators to mimic the actions heart muscles make to pump blood.
“Imagine that a patient before cardiac device implantation could have their heart scanned, and then clinicians could tune the device to perform optimally in the patient well before the surgery,” explains Chris Nyugen, a collaborator on the research from Massachusetts General Hospital.
The device uses biological tissue — for instance, from a pig’s heart — that is attached to silicone fibres consisting of inflatable air pockets. The team also produced an adhesive that enables the artificial material to attach to the biological tissue.
“With further tissue engineering, we could potentially see the biorobotic hybrid heart be used as an artificial heart,” Nguyen said.