A FULLY artificial heart has been developed by scientists who say they have a working prototype ready for implanting into humans.
The device uses electronic sensors to regulate heart rate and blood flow and beats almost exactly like the real thing.
Developers, Carmat, now need approval from the French authorities before they can push ahead with clinical trials.
A shortage of donor organs means there are 20,000 people unable to receive a life-saving heart transplant.
“At present, Carmat’s prototype artificial heart has been patented and is undergoing pre-clinical testing,” the company said in a statement.
Following further development, it will be tested on patients whose lives are under threat and who have no other options for treatment before the trials are extended to others with a better outlook.
Existing pneumatic heart implants are only used as a stop-gap measure during transplant operations or while patients wait for a donor organ.
Alain Carpentier, the French cardiac specialist who developed the artificial heart, is one of the world’s leading practitioners of cardiac valve repair and has already created a series of artificial valves used widely in surgery.
“I couldn’t stand seeing young, active people dying aged 40 from massive heart attacks,” he said.
“I was struck by the therapeutic gap, and I thought I could make my contribution as I had already succeeded with bioprostheses,” he told French daily Le Monde, which said two to three more years of tests may be needed before the first human trials.
The new heart is covered with specially treated tissue to avoid rejection by the body’s immune system and the formation of blood clots.
However, the power supply for the heart remains a significant hurdle.
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