China develops rocket tech-powered artificial heart

Updated 2018-03-15 08:39:02

Magnetic, fluid levitation can extend life of power generator: expert

China has developed an artificial heart using rocket technology, which is expected to benefit domestic patients by reducing their costs, medical specialists said.

The artificial heart has been sent for testing and inspection after thorough experiments on animals, Science and Technology Daily reported on Tuesday, citing Li Hong, former director of the China Academy of Launch Vehicle Technology from the State-owned China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation.

The heart was developed jointly by the China Academy of Launch Vehicle Technology and the Teda International Cardiovascular Hospital in North China's Tianjin.

The artificial heart uses magnetic and fluid levitation from a rocket system, and the "aerospace heart" is expected to move to clinical trials during the 13th Five-Year Plan (2016-20), the report said.

"The magnetic and fluid levitation technology can reduce the friction in the device to increase the working efficiency and extend the life span of the power generator," Song Zhongping, a military expert and TV commentator, told the Global Times.

The technology used can reduce damage to the blood and enable the blood pump to work longer, Science and Technology Daily reported.

"There is no self-made artificial heart approved for sale in China. For now, patients have to rely on heart transplants," Sun Hongtao, associate chief physician at the Fuwai Cardiovascular Hospital, told the Global Times on Wednesday.

"An imported artificial heart could cost 100,000 euros (2,800). If China could produce its own artificial heart at a lower cost, that will definitely benefit heart patients in China," Sun said.

Fuwai Cardiovascular Hospital also developed an artificial heart using magnetic levitation, and the man-made hearts have been planted in three of the patients from June to October 2017, Xinhua News Agency reported on March 9.

Sun said artificial hearts are typically used while waiting for a heart transplant, or to permanently replace the heart in case heart transplants are not possible.

In 2013, scientists planted a man-made heart in a sheep, which survived for 120 days in good health. The hearts were then placed in six other sheep and all survived 100 days or longer, which proved that the heart is qualified for batch production, the Science and Technology report said.

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