September 16, 2009

Scientists Create Wireless Heart Pump

Scientists in New Zealand have announced the development of a wireless heart pump that could prove to be an effective alternative to heart transplant surgery.

"We would very much like for it to be the preferred choice for patients to be able to choose this type of pump over a heart transplant, said David Budgett of the University of Auckland.

Scientists said the wireless pump uses magnetic fields to transfer power through a person's skin rather than using wire cables. This allows for continuous power.

The pump was created through collaboration between scientists from The University of Auckland's Bioengineering Institute, Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering and Department of Physiology.

Scientists also said they created a new company, called TETCor, that will market the new technology.

"This new wireless heart pump weights only 92 grams and measures just seven centimeters by three centimeters," said TETCor CEO Dr Simon Malpas.

"It uses a coil outside a person's body to generate a magnetic field. A second coil placed inside a person's body, near the collar bone, picks up the signal from this field and creates power for the pump."

"These wireless heart pumps could be implanted in about 50,000 people each year around the world within 10 years. It's probably the most extreme implantable medical device you can get. If these pumps stop, you only have about one minute to live."

TETCor has licensed the technology to the US medical company MicroMed, creating a joint partnership that will combine the power transfer technology with the pump technology, and plan to begin patient trials within 24 months.


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