Do you have a heart … ? First artificial heart ready … !

This year, 2011, someone here in Paris, but not necessarily a French national, will wake up in a hospital bed with a brand new heart. Not someone else’s heart, no, but one all his own. In other words an artificial heart. The heart, made by the Paris-based start-up, Carmat SAS, founded in 2008, has gone […]

This year, 2011, someone here in Paris, but not necessarily a French national, will wake up in a hospital bed with a brand new heart. Not someone else’s heart, no, but one all his own. In other words an artificial heart.

The heart, made by the Paris-based start-up, Carmat SAS, founded in 2008, has gone through most of the needed clinical tests in the chest of primates, and is now ready for transplantation into the real thing – a human chest. (Above is a photo of what it more or less looks like.)

The heart is the brainchild of Prof Alain Carpentier and his team from Carmat SAS. Professor Carpentier, 78, is Emeritus Professor at the Pierre & Marie Curie University in Paris where he founded and today still runs the Heart Transplant and Proytheses Laboratory. He is also Professor at the Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York, and he is a member of the French Academy of Science.

The artificial heart, he says, has taken him 15 years to perfect and overcomes the problems  and inconveniences of the Jarvik 7 and AbioCor artificial hearts invented in the U.S.  With both those hearts there were wires protruding through the skin and the AbioCor caused blood clots.

With the Carmat heart there is no wiring through the skin and it is made of cutting-edge biopolymer materials that will prevent blood from clotting and prevent rejection. The heart also has two internal pumps that will move blood to the lungs and into the body whereas the two previous American artificial hearts had just one such pump. If you want to know how this heart is going to work like a real heart, know that it runs with a battery which would like all batteries, alas, have to be recharged to prevent the heart stopping. The battery would run for between 5/16 hours.

Speaking of the heart already two years ago, Prof Carpentier said that there is just one thing the recipient of it would not be able to do, and that is run a marathon. (Who wants to run a marathon anyway?)

Carmat’s partners in the project are the aerospace and defence giant EADS (European Aeronautics Defence & Space), makers of Airbus, and Vignal Artru Industries (VAI), PaxiTech, Dédienne Santé and HEF R&D. The latter are all medical and technology enterprises.

And how much would have been spent to give mankind this replacement for the human heart?

Carmat had a five-year budget of €74 million ($108 million / £66 million). Of this amount €33 ($48 million / £30 million) was provided by Oséo, the national French agency that provides financial support to start-ups and which is controlled by the Ministry for Economy, Finance and Industry, and the Ministry for Higher Education and Research.

Prof Carpentier - Future Nobel Laureate?

Prof Carpentier has already contributed largely to heart care; he developed the first artificial heart valve (the Carpentier-Edwards Valve) for which he received the prestigious Albert Laster Award for Clinical Medical Research in 2007.

He was born Alain Frédéric Carpentier on August 11, 1933 in Toulouse, south-west France. He was on Time magazine’s list of ‘man of the year’ in 2009 when Ben Bernanke of the Federal Reserve was chosen.

The Carmat heart will be transplanted into a patient before the end of the year.

Am I right to think that Prof Carpentier is on his way to becoming a Nobel Laureate?

 

 

 

 

 

Marilyn Z. Tomlins

One Response to “Do you have a heart … ? First artificial heart ready … !”

  1. 1
    Jo Wake Says:

    He certainly should get a Nobel prize, what a wonderful thing to have invented, or improved upon.

    Hope its OK if I talk about this in my blog tomorrow. In fact I will reference this blog.

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