New robot wraps around heart to help organ beat

Device eliminates risk of deadly blood clots; need for blood thinners

New robot wraps around heart to help organ beat

World Bulletin / News Desk

Researchers announced Thursday they have created a robot built of soft material that can fit like a sleeve around a human heart and help it pump blood.

The international team that worked on the device hope it could soon help patients who are waiting for a transplant or help in the recovery of those suffering from a weakened circulatory system.

Unlike current medical devices for the heart, the robot does not touch blood, which greatly reduces the risk of blood clots and infection. It would also mean patients would not need to take blood thinning medication, which can be dangerous.

The invention was announced in a report published in Science Translational Medicine by teams at Harvard University and Boston Children’s Hospital.

Scientists from European institutions, including the National University of Ireland, also contributed.

Scientists boast the prototype is a great example of the growing field of mechanotherapy -- the use of machines to heal human tissue.

“This work represents an exciting proof of concept result for this soft robot, demonstrating that it can safely interact with soft tissue and lead to improvements in cardiac function,” said Harvard’s Conor Walsh, the senior author of the paper. “We envision many other future applications where such devices can delivery mechanotherapy both inside and outside of the body.”

The robot powers fake muscles built of silicon with compressed air. Though it has not yet been tested on humans, scientists successfully used the device on pigs.

Heart disease is one of the leading causes of death worldwide, with 26 million people globally affected by heart failure, according to the European Society of Cardiology.

Currently, heart failure is treated with mechanical pumps inserted into the heart, a treatment that puts patients at high risk for blood clots. 

Last Mod: 20 Ocak 2017, 08:15
Add Comment