Not only does a heart transplant for people with weak, failing hearts involve the obvious risk of the transplant itself, it almost always involves taking anti-rejection drugs for life. Other alternatives include heart assist devices or even "artificial hearts", many of which come into direct contact with the patient's bloodstream, not only requiring the anti-rejection drugs, which suppress the entire immune system, but anti-clotting drugs as well.
A new technology developed at the University of Leeds could solve those problems. A new webbing has been developed from biocompatible material that wraps around the heart, and by means of sensors and small motors, helps the heart to squeeze and pump the blood through the body. According to PhD student David Keeling, "It's a really simple concept that works in the same way as when you squeeze a plastic bottle, forcing the liquid inside to riseâ€.
Although still in the prototype stage, the initial tests are very promising.