In An Effort To More Accurately Mimic Valves, A Biorobotic Heart Beats

A Beating Biorobotic Heart Aims to Better Simulate Valves | The Lifesciences Magazine

Researchers developed a biorobotic heart that beats like a real one by fusing a biological heart with a silicone robotic pump. They concentrated on a valve on the left side of the heart. The heart valve simulator, which was introduced on January 10 in the journal Device, can replicate the form, operation, and movement of a normal or sick heart. This enables researchers and surgeons to show different procedures while gathering data in real time.

“The simulator has a huge benefit as a research tool for those who study different heart valve conditions and interventions,” says senior author and biomedical engineer Ellen Roche of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

“It can serve as a surgical training platform for clinicians, medical students, and trainees, allow device engineers to study their new designs, and even help patients better understand their own disease and potential treatments.”

Novel therapies are rigorously tested in animal models and heart simulators before being made available to humans.

Present-day cardiac simulators, however, only last two to four hours and fail to fully replicate the intricacy of a real heart.

Research on animals can be costly and time-consuming, and results may not necessarily apply to people.

These voids can be filled by the biorobotic heart, which is a less costly technique with a few months’ shelf life.

The condition known as mitral regurgitation, in which the valve between the left and right heart chambers malfunctions and allows blood to flow backward through a leaky heart valve, was the subject of the study.

This illness, which affects over 24.2 million individuals globally, can result in heart failure, limb edoema, and dyspnea.

The complexity of the valve’s construction makes surgery to treat the condition extremely difficult, emphasising the necessity for precise surgical techniques and efficient technology.

Based on a pig heart, the researchers created a biorobotic heart to gain a better understanding of the mitral valve in both healthy and pathological conditions.

The researchers used a soft robotic pump system made of silicone that is powered by air to replace the left chamber heart muscle.

When the device is inflated, it pumps fake blood through a fictitious circulatory system and mimics the beat of a biological heart by twisting and compressing the heart like genuine heart muscle.

The biorobotic heart displayed signs of a leaky heart valve after the scientists injured the mitral valve.

The scientists then employed three distinct approaches to repair the damage: implanting a device to aid in valve leaflet closing, replacing the valve with a prosthetic valve, and attaching the flailing valve leaflet tissue with artificial cables.

The three surgeries were completed successfully, returning the heart’s function, pressure, and flow to normal.

The device is compatible with the existing imaging technologies used in the clinics and allowed the research team to capture data in real-time during surgery.

“It was really interesting for the surgeons to see every step,” Roche explains.

“When you’re working with patients, you can’t visualise the process because there’s blood in the heart.” She sees their heart model as a practical setting for practicing and training in cardiac surgery.

The team’s next goal is to further extend the shelf life and reduce the production time of the current biorobotic heart system.

Instead of using a pig heart, they’re also studying 3D printing technologies to manufacture a synthetic human heart for the system.

“Our biorobotic heart may help improve the device design cycle, allow rapid iterations, get things approved by regulatory bodies, and launch them into the market quickly,” Roche claims. “Expediting and improving these processes will ultimately benefit patients.”

Also Read: A Comprehensive Guide on How to Prevent Heart Disease

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