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Blood flow research showcased at Houses of Parliament

Laser image of spiral groove bearing

Aston University researchers attended the Houses of Parliament to showcase how spiral groove bearings can lead to safer and improved artificial blood pumps.

The Aston research team is the first to prove that cell exclusion is possible within Couette Flow, the type of flow which occurs in implantable rotary blood pumps.

The team highlighted the problem of how artificial pumps can inflict high levels of shear stress on the red blood cells as they pass through blood pumps, which can cause the red cells to burst and die. To limit this effect, the Aston team has developed a spiral groove bearing, for use in blood pumps, to initiate cell exclusion. The bearing within the pump forces cells into the bearing’s circular grooves, separating them from the blood, protecting them from the damaging forces, and helping to improve flow.

Dr Laura Leslie, who worked on the project at Aston University, said: “We hope this research will help to improve the design of future blood pumps and bring substantial benefits to heart failure patients in the future. This was a fantastic event to be part of and a great opportunity to see the strength of engineering research in the UK.”

Andrew Miller MP, Chairman of the Parliamentary and Scientific Committee, said: “This annual competition is an important date in the parliamentary calendar because it gives MPs an opportunity to speak to a wide range of the country’s best young researchers. These early career scientists are the architects of our future and SET for Britain is politicians’ best opportunity to meet them and understand their work.”

The Parliamentary and Scientific Committee ran the event in collaboration with The Royal Academy of Engineering, The Institute of Physics, the Society of Biology, The Royal Society of Chemistry, the Physiological Society, the Wellcome Trust and the Society of Chemical Industry, with financial support from BP, Airbus/EADS, The Institution of Engineering and Technology, AgChem Access, Oxford Instruments, IBMS and GE Hitachi.

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