At present, the only options on the market worldwide are human heart transplants, artificial parts transplants such as valves, animal parts, and a few artificial devices which are not licensed for permanent insertion, but only as a last resort of patients who are not suitable for other treatments. The prototype heart produced by CARMAT is made of synthetic, animal, and electronic parts and is projected to cost about the same as conventional heart transplant costs today.Jolly’s New York Times article cites many other players in this hi-tech arena who are working hard in laboratories across the world to be the first to overcome the technical problems and pricing hurdles that have so far kept artificial hearts out of reach. American companies SynCardia in Tucson, Abiomed in Danvers, Mass. and others, along with teams in Aachen, Germany, and elsewhere are pursuing various different technologies with similar aims in mind. An announcement in October 2010 that a teenage boy has been given a permanent mechanical heart claims to be a world-first, but in fact, the profile of the case suggests that he is actually in the category of patients not eligible for standard transplants, since he suffers from a medical condition that would rule out conventional surgery. The goal of a viable product for universal use is therefore still outstanding.All of these major biotech ventures are have high research and development costs and long transition phases from prototype to viable product because of understandably strict regulations on new techniques designed for human subjects. Innovations are forthcoming in the universities and medical schools but there are usually big challenges in finding sufficient funding to bring them to the market.In recent years there has been a focus on research and development of scientific products in Europe and there are signs that economic turbulence has, in fact, intensified these trends.
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