Top Tech 2013 Day 20: Artificial Organs

As our knowledge of the human body increases, so does our ability to heal it. But this doesn’t always mean using the body’s own regenerative mechanisms-sometimes it means replacing systems outright, as discussed in our article on neurocontrol. A great amount of work (more than neurocontrolled prosthetics)  has been done on creating replacements for each of the organs in the human body. Some of these organs now have functional (if early) systems, while others will take many more years of research.

London Science Museum released Rex, an ‘artificial man’ earlier this year. Rex is an exhibit that shows that nearly 60-70% of the total mass of a human can be reproduced in some way by artificially created systems. On just the organ side, Rex includes Syncardia’s artificial heart, an artificial kidney developed at UCSF (expected to begin trials in 2017) ,and retinal implants developed at Oxford University.

A holding company filed for a patent on an artificial stomach this year-reading the rest of their patent applications is actually quite enlightening!

The first self regulating artificial heart was installed just this month– self regulating because it mimics the function of the original heart it replaces. The heart was designed by Alain Carpentier of Carmat.

While full artificial spines are not yet available, artificial disks are in trials and being prepared for clinical use.

And if none of that excites you enough, 75% of a man’s skull was replaced with a 3d printed version.