A disease such as heart failure affects tens of millions of people worldwide and, despite a number of promising research and development already available, the search for new treatments and therapies continues. At the moment, a team of scientists from Harvard University and the Boston Children’s Clinic has developed and successfully tested on animals a soft robotic sleeve worn on the heart, which helps the vital organ of a person to contract and, thereby, maintain a full blood supply to organs and tissues. The device is a silicone sleeve coated with a biocompatible hydrogel. Scientists were able to recreate the work of the heart muscles, which resembles the process of twisting a wet towel: in the upper and lower parts, the tissue of the heart muscle performs its work in different ways. Therefore, the product uses two layers of pneumatic artificial muscles. Actuators of the inner layer are arranged circularly, and the outer layer is spiral. Their simultaneous contraction causes compression and twisting of the sleeve, repeating the natural movements of the heart. Actuators are connected by tubes to an external pump controlled by a programmable system. It was with its help that the researchers were able to adjust the device to the individual characteristics of the patient’s diseased heart (experiments were conducted on pigs), namely, under selective twisting and compression of the right or left ventricle of the heart. This is important because chronic heart failure often affects not the entire organ, but only its parts. Since a soft robotic sleeve is applied outside the heart, it does not come into contact with blood, which does not lead to blood clots and does not require the use of anticoagulants. While the introduction of the device into medical practice is out of the question, the invention has to go through a series of long preclinical and clinical trials, including on human volunteers suffering from heart failure. “Studies have shown that the growing industry of soft robotics can be put into practice in order to improve the quality of life of patients and extend it as much as possible,” said Frank Pigula, a cardiac surgeon who participated in the project.