The ongoing quest for the first total artificial heart as destination therapy
Many patients with end-stage heart disease die because of the scarcity of donor hearts. A total artificial heart (TAH), an implantable machine that replaces the heart, has so far been successfully used in over 1,700 patients as a temporary life-saving technology for bridging to heart transplantation. However, after more than six decades of research on TAHs, a TAH that is suitable for destination therapy is not yet available. High complication rates, bulky devices, poor durability, poor biocompatibility and low patient quality of life are some of the major drawbacks of current TAH devices that must be addressed before TAHs can be used as a destination therapy. Quickly emerging innovations in battery technology, wireless energy transmission, biocompatible materials and soft robotics are providing a promising opportunity for TAH development and might help to solve the drawbacks of current TAHs. In this Review, we describe the milestones in the history of TAH research and reflect on lessons learned during TAH development. We summarize the differences in the working mechanisms of these devices, discuss the next generation of TAHs and highlight emerging technologies that will promote TAH development in the coming decade. Finally, we present current challenges and future perspectives for the field.