The French med tech company Carmat has been granted European approval to supply the Aeson artificial heart that they developed. The company announced that this week. For the time being, Aeson is only allowed to be implanted temporarily and as such, form a so-called ‘bridge-to-transplant’ (as a bridge to the next phase of a treatment).

The artificial heart is named after a mythological legend named Aeson who drank a magic potion and became 40 years younger.

Aeson is aimed at patients who are scheduled for a heart transplant within a period of 180 days. The artificial heart is also suitable for patients for whom a supportive heart or LVAD (Left Ventricular Assist Device) does not work.

The green light from the European Union also has to do with the structural shortage of heart donors. Carmat’s device is intended for patients with severe biventricular heart failure. This is a life-threatening condition whereby the heart is no longer able to pump blood adequately through the body.

Two thousand people are on the waiting list for a heart transplant in the EU

Carmat has been trying for years to win over governments to its products by conducting all kinds of clinical tests. This has been a matter of trial and error, as the Reuters news outlet states. In the past, patients have died during trials involving a predecessor of Aeson. That’s not exactly how things went with Aeson, a character from ancient literature. According to Greek mythology, Aeson drank blood which subsequently turned into a magic potion, which made him 40 years younger.

Carmat is planning to help patients from Germany and France first starting in April. According to the company, 2000 people in the European Union are currently on the waiting list for a heart transplant.

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In a sense, the patients are guinea pigs. Aeson’s contribution will become part of a French study in which 52 patients are set to take part. The study is financed to the tune of 13 million euros by the French government. Parallel to this, the first 95 patients will be closely monitored in order to gather data on the performance of the Aeson. A positive evaluation should lead to the Aeson being reimbursed by the national healthcare system. Each Aeson costs 150,000 euros.

Heart valves from Carpentier-Edwards

The Carmat company, which Airbus holds a 13 percent stake in (through a subsidiary), claims to deliver a unique solution. It is the result of the combination of medical expertise from Alain Frédéric Carpentier (renowned for the invention of Carpentier-Edwards heart valves) and the technological expertise of the Airbus Group.

Given its size, the use of highly biocompatible materials, and its unique self-regulatory system, the Aeson could in the near future occupy a unique place in this branch.

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About the author

Ewout Kieckens is a Dutch journalist in Rome who writes about Italian lifestyle and culture. He has written books on diverse subjects such as the Vatican and Italian women. He is very interested in innovations, especially Italian contribution to progress.