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China uses space technology to modify artificial heart


08:48, May 15, 2013

TIANJIN, May 14 (Xinhua) -- A sheep implanted with a new type of artificial heart developed by Chinese scientists using cutting-edge aerospace technology has lived for 62 days thus far, the heart's developers announced on Monday.

The development of the heart was jointly conducted by scientists from the China Academy of Launch Vehicle Technology and TEDA International Cardiovascular Hospital in north China's Tianjin Municipality.

The sheep, nicknamed "Tianjiu," is in sound condition after receiving the blood pump on March 14, said Liu Xiaocheng, president of the hospital.

He said researchers used magnetic suspension and hydrodynamic bearings -- both examples of aerospace technology -- to design and produce an implantable third-generation ventricular assist device (VAD), a mechanical pump used to support heart function and blood flow in people with weakened hearts.

The device is the first of its kind to be fitted with a battery and controller. The sheep experiment is similar to a clinical implantation, the scientists said.

Once the device is marketed, it may end suffering for the 16 million people in China with failing hearts, as many patients are waiting for heart transplants.

China began research on VAD in the early 1980s. Clinical use of commercialized VADs had yet to take place until now.

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