A robotic heart that combines soft artificial muscles with a patient’s cells will eliminate the need for transplants within the decade, scientists vying for a £30 million research grant say.
The British Heart Foundation is offering its largest single grant to the winner of its “big beat challenge” aimed at reducing heart-related deaths. It is hoped this soft robotic heart could clear NHS transplant waiting lists. The “hybrid heart” will be the first ever made of soft artificial muscles and sensors and then coated in human tissue grown in a lab, this means there will be no need for anti-rejections drugs, another bonus of the breakthrough.
A pioneering Dutch surgeon is working in partnership with the British Heart Foundation to transplant it in to the first person in 2028, but it is generally accepted that medical advancements in the coming years could mean it may be much sooner.
The team behind it claim it could end the need for transplants from dead humans and save thousands who die while on organ donor waiting lists globally. Prof Jolanda Kluin, of the University of Amsterdam, said: “at the moment the only treatment we can offer for end stage heart failure is replacement.” Professor Sir Nilesh Samani, medical director at the BHF, said: ‘Heart and circulatory diseases remain the number one cause of death worldwide.
Facts: Uk Mortality Rates
A study in 2017 found that over 42,000 people died from heart and circulatory diseases in the UK before the age of 75, a rise of just over 3 percent on the 41,042 in 2014. Among under-65s, there were 18,668 deaths in 2017, up almost 4 percent on the 17,982 five years earlier.