The Swiss-based Werner Siemens-Foundation, whose mission is to supports innovative technological and scientific research projects, has donated 12 million francs to a revolutionary project conducted at EPFL’s Integrated Actuators Laboratory (LAI). As a result, a Center for Artificial Muscles (CAM) will be set up on EPFL's Microcity campus in Neuchâtel. It will further the research on a new, less invasive cardiac assistance system consisting of a ring placed around the aorta and controlled by magnetic induction.
“Our group has been working on artificial hearts for several decades now," explains Yves Perriard, director of EPFL's Integrated Actuators Laboratory, to Swiss public broadcaster RTS. “Usually, you start from the assumption that you have to put something in the heart – a tiny motor with a propeller or a balloon catheter. But we started from a completely different idea: getting out of the heart, removing all the valves. To do that, we needed a sort of artificial muscle, and we came up with the idea of using electroactive polymers. This new technology will now be developed at the center, with the goal of helping the heart pump blood in case of cardiac failure.”
The new Center for Artificial Muscles will work closely with the ARTORG Center for Biomedical Engineering Research and the experimental surgery section of the Department for BioMedical Research at the University of Bern. Both institutions have been working on simulation experiments in the area of mechanical circulatory assistance over the past few years.