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Metal hearts undergo trials

Regulators have given permission for a US biotechnology company to implant metal hearts in a handful of critically ill patients.

SPIS MedWire(MedWire@sciencenow.com)

The US Food and Drug Administration has given permission for a US biotechnology company to conduct a unique trial involving the implantation of metal hearts in a handful of critically ill patients.

Massachusetts-based Abiomed has developed the heart, called AbioCor, which is made of titanium and plastic and is about the size of a grapefruit. Abiomed's vice-president of external relations, Ed Berger, said: "As far as we know, it will be the first time an implantable artificial heart has been tried in a clinical study".

Currently in the US, 100,000 critically ill patients would benefit from a heart transplant each year. But only about 2,000 hearts are donated annually for operations. Berger commented: "Hospitals want to use the hearts available as frugally and effectively as possible — which means they tend to be reserved for the healthiest people. People who are older, or have other medical conditions, often lose out."...

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