Next-Gen Artificial Heart Powered By Lithium Ion Batteries To Go On Sale This Year
A French startup claims it has created the world’s ‘most advanced’ artificial heart, and it’s set to become available as early as this year.
Carmat’s plans to begin selling the heart this spring would make their device one of the first fully artificial heart to reach the market, as only the second such device to have gained regulatory approval.
Total Artificial Hearts, known as TAHs, have been in development for the better part of the last century. The first artificial heart was implanted in a dog in 1937, a full 30 years before the first full human heart transplant was completed in South Africa in 1967. Carmat itself has been developing its artificial heart for 27 years, and a few months ago announced it had completed the decade-long process of gaining European regulatory approval.
It’s not exactly surprising a device that literally can’t afford to miss a beat has taken a while to clear all the necessary hurdles. But Carmat’s TAH is a unique and particularly complex creation. The heart, called Aeson, weighs about three times as much as an average human heart and runs on the same lithium-ion batteries that power our smartphones – although these ones are in an external battery pack. It has sensors and a hydraulic system designed to mimic normal blood flow, and can also adjust the flow rate in real time to support higher rates of exercise. All of which means that, rather than constantly being bedbound or hooked up to a machine, patients who receive the heart can be mobile for up to four hours a day, and can keep the same device for up to five years.
Right now, most artificial hearts are only implanted as a stop-gap measure while patients on the transplant list wait for a heart to become available. Carmat plans on using its fully implantable heart in cases where patients are suffering from terminal heart failure, and last year announced that one of its triallists had been living with the heart for two years.
Carmat likely still has a way to go before it becomes available worldwide; at the moment only one total artificial heart device, the SynCardia, is approved in the US, but Carmat’s announcement that it plans to release its device in the second quarter of 2021 has only increased hopes. The company is currently valued at $496 million, and news of its European regulatory approval saw its shared price jump by 34%, France24 reports.
It’s not a permanent or universal solution by any means, but when you consider that the average waiting time for a heart transplant is around six months, Carmat’s device could quite literally be the difference between life and death for patients on the transplant list.
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