Engineers have developed a silicone aorta that can reduce how hard patients’ hearts have to pump. Their breakthrough could offer a promising alternative to heart transplants.

To validate their system, the engineers built a simulator consisting of pumps and chambers that replicate the blood-flow and pressure conditions within a human heart. By testing the device on the simulator, they were able to reduce the amount of cardiac energy required by 5.5 percent. The research team now plans to conduct further tests of their artificial aorta, and they are already working on a new design that delivers better performance.

The real challenge lies in the manufacturing step. The researchers developed a new production process to increase the volume of the silicone tube. Due to the device’s multi-layer design, they had only half as affordable electric field was reached as compared to a single-membrane system.

The team has filed a patent for their technology. The hope is that their discovery can be used to treat other medical conditions, such as urological disorders, that require a similar approach.

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