Cardiac patch could be a better pacemaker, help with cardiac drug testing

The patch is made up of nanoscale electronic scaffolds that are seeded with cardiac cells and is similar to a pacemaker in behavior.  It offers electronic shocks to the heart to correct arrhythmia. However, researchers feel this patch could detect arrhythmia sooner.  “Even before a person started to go into large-scale arrhythmia that frequently causes irreversible damage or other heart problems, this could detect the early-stage instabilities and intervene sooner,” Lieber said in an announcement.  “It can also continuously monitor the feedback from the tissue and actively respond.”

Because the patch is on the heart itself, rather than on the surface of the skin, it can use much lower voltages.  Lieber also expressed a possibility of using the patch to monitor cardiac responses to cardiac drugs, or to help screen for drug effectiveness.  The patch could also be used to study tissue behavior as it develops through aging, ischemia or differentiation of stem cells into mature cardiac cells.

The patch has not been used on animals as of yet; however, Lieber said “we are interested in identifying collaborators already investigating cardiac patch implantation to treat myocardial infarction in a rodent model.  I do not think it would be difficult to build this into a simpler, easily implantable system.”

Lieber is thinking about the future of the tech already and believes the technology could go hand in hand with the injectable electronics technology he previously developed.  “It may actually be that, in the future, this won’t be done with a surgical patch,” he said.  “We could simply do a co-injection of cells with the mesh, and it assembles itself inside the body, so it’s less invasive.”

REFERENCE:  Fierce Medical Devices; 27 JUN 2016; Alyssa Huntley

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