Synthetic Organs

The AbioCor is the first artificial heart to be used in nearly two decades.


Synthetic Organs are available to individuals globally because of the developments in technology and medicine. Organs like the heart, the brain, and the lungs are vital to our existence and although more individuals are becoming organ donors, the amount of organs available are less than the need.
The Liver is an amazing organ that has the capability of regenerating itself. However, many people's organs become too damaged and ruined for the organ to reproduce healthily. Therefore, synthetic parts and materials are being discovered with technological advancements and medical strides.Heart valve and pacemakers are among the most popular artificial devices desired in heart related transplants. It is critical that the heart have blood and continue beating. With lungs, a problem is they become weak or have a tear making it impossible for a person to breath. With the ability to have an artificial lung transplant, it gives those patients more time to live and be considered for an organ transplant.
Brains have nodes, and membranes, and cortex's which can control motor functions, memory, speech, and emotions. The brain is an avenue where more research is taking place in order to understand what aspects may be removed or transplanted. In the future doctors may have computer chips and stem cells to recreate a specific aspect.
Artificial skin has proven to be life changing especially for burn victims. Skin is a unique organ because we on a daily basis shed hundreds of skin cells. With new technology membranes and collagen mesh are allowing a scar less appearance. Kidneys are another organ which use a silicon based membrane for synthetic organ transplants. By allowing the body to have a filtration system, toxins and impurities can successfully leave the body. Technology and medicine are working in unison to create organs that can sustain life. These advancements will have a global affect.


The liver is a multi-functional organ within our bodies that is responsible for filtering out toxins in our bloodstream, protein synthesis and production of other chemicals used in digestion and blood clotting. It is one of the few organs within our bodies that will actually repair itself, given enough time and as long as there is not too much damage.

There were very few options for people who suffered from Cirrhosis or other liver diseases to increase their survival chances. The first attempts to prolong a person’s life was to use a freshly removed pig’s liver to act as a surrogate. This would only extend the patient’s life for a day or two because human white blood cells would quickly destroy the liver within a few hours.

Vital Therapies is a company with offices in San Diego, CA and also in Beijing, China, that has developed a liver dialysis machine, ELAD. The cartridges uses in this system contain a proprietary C3A human Hepatocyte cell line, licensed from the Wistar Institute in Philadelphia and further developed by Baylor College of Medicine. The synthetic lining within the cartridges is able to synthesize most of the metabolic functions of a real liver. With this a patient could possibly survive weeks longer to allow time for a liver transplant, or for their liver to repair itself.


A synthetic heart is a prosthetic device that is implanted into the body to replace the original biological heart. Different from the cardiopulmonary bypass (CPB), the synthetic heart is internal rather than external and requires connections to both blood circuits. Also, whereas the CPB may only be used for a few hours at a time, the current record for the synthetic heart is 17 consecutive months of taking over the day-to-day workload of the biological heart.

The SynCardia temporary Total Artificial Heart was the first FDA approved synthetic heart. Although it was originally designed as a permanent replacement for the biological heart, it is currently used to serve as a bridge to biological heart transplants for patients that are dying from irreversible end stage biventricular failure. There have been over 900 successful implants of this device, accounting for over 210 years of combined life of patients waiting for biological heart transplants. Although there are prototypes out there, the synthetic heart still remains one of the long-sought holy grails of modern medicine. Due to the glaring limitations of the synthetic heart, such as foreign-body rejection and battery power, we still have a long way to go before the device reaches its full potential. However, with the rapid acceleration of medical science, it shouldn't be long before this long-sought goal becomes a reality.


Lungs are a commonly needed organ due to cancer and infections damaging the organ, doctors have been hard pressed though as the organ is able to be transplanted but many patient’s body reject the organ and tend to not live for more than a decade after as well the organ isn’t common. Most people depend on these transfers as technology hasn’t caught up to help those in need in today’s world. Though recent research is slowly getting to the point where the lung can be easily replaced.

The lung has been grown as of recently scientists re-grew a rat’s lung by injecting it functional lung cells and soaked it in bioreactor for 8 days before transplanting it back. The transplantation was successful allowing the rat to breath easily once more. This proves that it is possible to re-grow a lung for a human though it’s believed amongst these same scientists that this day won’t occur for another 20 years. Another way to create the lung naturally is by means of “printing” blood cells and using those to create the organ needed, tested at a company called Organova currently the idea is used for blood bypasses, but the company hopes to expand to kidneys and afterwards into more complex organs such as the lung.

Another common replacement of the lung is artificially but most lungs that have been created do work but in limited ways, as they all need heavy amounts of oxygen to work causing the person to be stuck to an oxygen tank limiting mobility. Usually the artificial lung is used to keep someone alive while waiting for a real lung to transplant. Recently though at Case Western Reserve University headed by Joe Potkay with his team has developed a lung that works on regular air as well can be powered by the heart. Its size being the same as the lung gives the possibility of a fully functional artificial organ that gives the same mobility and possibilities for a person with it than a person with two regular lungs. The testing, Potkay plans to have it working and able to be bought by those in need in 2013.

external image artificial-lung.jpg


The brain, the main organ of the human body is unique, to recreate it proves very difficult due to the brain being different from person to person as well to transplant one is very difficult with the issue of certain key components such as the nerves not being able to heal itself. Even if you successfully remove a brain from someone and keep the brain alive for the time needed, the other body will reject the brain ending in death. With the issue of transplanting a living brain scientists have let to trying to recreate the brain artificially using computers.

The idea behind an artificial brain is to use hardware to reconstruct and mimic the human brain with all of its cognitive abilities. The project “Blue Brain” led by Henry Markram plans to reconstruct the human brain through the use of computer chips, with one chip copying the functions of a single cell. The first brain created in this way was a rat’s brain consisting of 10,000 cells powered by the world’s strongest computer supplied by IBM. With this power those working on the project hope to move from the rat’s brain to a cat’s than a primate and finally a human brain their goal being 2020 to have a human brain perfectly replicated. The goal of the project being to give scientists a better understanding of how the brain works and put that knowledge to the use of helping those with damaged brains.

As of today instead of a fully functional brain recreated what are commonly used are small parts to replace damaged sections of a brain. Such an example is reconnecting the connection through the eye and the brain to allow a blind person see.


Skin is, by far, the largest organ that we have and serves many more functions than we might think. One of the simplest, yet most important of those functions is to keep the outside out and the inside in. It sounds simple enough, yet it is a function that we have been unable to successfully duplicate with man-made materials. Although we use cadaver skin transplants and sometimes man-made wrappings, these only serve their purpose temporarily.

The current focus of synthetic skin is now more geared toward the repair of damaged skin using the body's own immune system. The upper
Integra skin, sometimes called "shark skin" because it contains shark cartilage, has advantages over traditional skin grafts.
layer of the skin, or epidermis is very thin and easily repaired if damaged. However, the bottom layer of skin, the dermis repairs itself very slowly and sometimes not at all. Whenever the dermis is repaired, it often leaves scars. This is especially the case with skin grafts.

Rather than repairing missing or damaged skin with skin from an undamaged part of the body, thus damaging that area of the body, the implementation of the Integra patch provides a much simpler, cleaner solution. It is a patch that has silicon on the top and a collagen mesh on the bottom. The patch is placed over the damaged dermis. As the silicon acts as a temporary epidermis, protecting the layer underneath from infection or damage, the body reacts to the collagen mesh as if it is a part of itself. The empty spaces in the mesh are populated with human blood cells as a result of the body treating it like it was just a damaged piece of skin.

Soon afterward, skin cells and everything else that make a healthy layer of skin are present within the collagen mesh, thus creating a new patch of skin by tricking the body into repairing itself. The upper silicon layer eventually decays and falls off, leaving behind a healthy layer of the patient's skin. While unable to successfully create a substance that can act exactly like the skin, what better substitute for skin than something with the very substances and cells that comprise it?


The kidneys are responsible for regulating or filtering the blood and impurities within our systems. Before the idea of artificial kidneys, the options for people who were in need of a kidney were to be put on a transplant list or to be hooked up to a dialysis machine. Labs at the University of California tested animals with a man-made artificial kidney that uses silicones and membrane like materials strong enough to act as a natural filtration system. Kidney transplants can be another option to those individuals struggling with dialysis and people with chronic renal failure.

One of the major advantages of the synthetic kidney is its ability to "perform a kidney's hormonal and metabolic functions". The synthetic kidney utilizes as many healthy cells along with a silicon membrane which is artificially made. The silicon membrane is stacked tightly together allowing the toxins to be filtered out of the body and eventually removed. Silicon membranes allow a low pressure on the body which is a major advantage over dialysis. With dialysis, a person becomes weak and may be affected regularly because the machine has to have enough pressure to have the water filtrate through the whole body. Since the demand for kidney transplants far exceeds the amount of donors, the synthetic kidney is a needed resolution. In 2010, there were 85,000 people on the kidney transplant list and only 17,000 transplants occurred that year. These numbers will soon be leveled as more individuals seek to have an artificial kidney.


  • Prosthesis- a removable or permanent replacement body part. It is an artificial implant that can be crucial for movement such as a leg is used to walk with. Prosthesis
  • Artificial Pacemaker-an electronic machine which is a substitute for the natural mechanics in one's heart. It can be inside the chest or attached outside the chest. Pacemaker
  • Transplant Hepatology-the medical study concerned with transplants of the liver and associated liver diseases. Liver
  • Epidermal Growth Factor (EGF)- a mitogenic polypeptide made by tumors in large abundance. It is crucial in embryogenesis for wounds and cells to successfully heal. EGF
  • Polymeric materials- new materials made to be compatible with human blood. The purpose of these materials is useful in brain reconstructions in order to keep the body and brain communicating and securing the body's ability to have cognitive functions.

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