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The State of Electromechanical and Bioartifical Organs

Posted: May 12, 2013 at 3:05 am

An article on the development of prosthetic organs, a field that continues to provide competition for regenerative medicine:

Proponents of biological organ replacements have recently been encouraged by the development of 3D tissue printing, which offers the tantalising possibility that we might build organs mechanically, layer by layer - a much faster process than growing them in the lab. But printing complex internal organs like the liver or heart is still some way off, and the technology will face similar issues to traditional tissue engineering when it comes to implanting. In the meantime, some scientists are pursuing a different approach, combining biological tissue with synthetic materials and/or mechanical and electronic components to create what could be called hybrid or even cyborg organs (cyborgans, if you will), which are more easily manufactured, longer lasting and more successful once implanted into the body.

On one level this means incorporating some biological material into a largely man-made device. French firm Carmat [has] begun animal trials on one of the world's most advanced designs for an artificial heart, which includes some biological elements.The two chambers inside the Carmat heart are each divided by a biomembrane that separates blood on side from hydraulic fluid on the other. Tiny motors controlled by an electronic sensor system pump the hydraulic fluid in and out of the chambers, in turn causing the membrane to pump the blood. To increase haemocompatiblity, the membrane is made from animal tissue that helps move the blood without damaging cells. Microporous biological and synthetic biomaterials also cover every other surface that comes in contact with the blood, in order to prevent material from sticking to them.

But scientists are also combining biological and synthetic materials in a more fundamental way, creating permanent artificial structures or scaffolds and then growing living cells around them. [Researchers are] already preparing to clinically trial blood vessels and tracheae (windpipes) made in this way, and [are] also developing urethrae, bladders and cardiac patches for healing hearts.

Link: http://www.theengineer.co.uk/medical-and-healthcare/in-depth/body-builders-developing-cyborg-organs/1016241.article


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