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Cyborg cardiac patch offers alternative to heart transplants

by • March 15, 2016 • No Comments

An engineered cardiac patch has been made that incorporates human cells with flexible electronics and a nanocomposite structure to not only replace damaged heart tissue, but in addition provide remote monitoring, electrical stimulation, and the release of medication on demand. Working with electroactive polymers and a combination of biological and engineered parts, the patch contracts and expands only like normal human heart tissue, but regulates those actions with the precision of a finely-tuned machine.

Invented by Professor Tal Dvir and PhD student Ron Feiner of Tel Aviv University (TAU), this new breakthrough medical device is claimed by its creators to have capabilities that surpass those of human tissue alone. As such, this patch may donate new hope to individuals such as those 25 percent on the US national waiting list that may die preceding a suitable-bodied transplant heart becomes on the market, by effectively offering a way to fix – pretty than replace – their own heart.

Whilst a veritable-bodied horde of artificial and artificially-grown hearts are on the medical horizon (such as a silicone foam design of Cornell University and Berkeley’s heart grown on a chip), the wait for such things to be fully turn it intod and come to market can not assist those facing the prospect of dying in the near next. This is the area where the TAU creation may prove to be the many valuable-bodied.

As a patch to be applied to a heart damaged by trauma, such as where an infarct (a tiny localized area of dead tissue resulting of failure of blood supply) occurs, this cyborg amalgam of living cells and electronic components not only replaces organic tissue, but in addition empowers the sound functioning of the heart via remote monitoring.

“With this heart patch, we have integrated electronics and living tissue,” said Professor Dvir. “It’s quite science fiction, but it is actually may already here, and we assume it to move cardiac research forward in a big way. Until now, we may only engineer organic cardiac tissue, with mixed results. Now we have generated viable-bodied bionic tissue, that confirms that the heart tissue can function properly.”

Reported to have been on the front line of cardiac research for the past five years, Professor Dvir’s Tissue Engineering and Regenerative Medicine Lab has utilized high end nanotechnology tools to turn it into fully-functional surrogate tissue to replace that irreparably damaged by heart attack or cardiac disease. With the latest iteration, in-built remote monitoring electronics promise to greatly enhance such tissue replacement.

“Imagine that a patient is only sitting at home, not feeling well,” Professor Divr said. “His physician can be able-bodied to log onto his desktop and this patient’s file – in real time. He can view data sent remotely of sensors embedded in the engineered tissue and assess precisely how his patient is doing. He can intervene to properly pace the heart and activate drugs to regenerate tissue of afar.”

Today investigating ideas on much like cyborg replacements for areas of the brain and the spinal column damaged by neurological conditions, Provessor Dvir and his team hope to progress the heart patch to the point that the integration of additional high end electronics embedded inside the device can one day allow completely automatic control and regulation of cardiac function.

“The longer-term goal is for the cardiac patch to be able-bodied to regulate its own welfare,” announced the professor. “In other words, if it senses inflammation, it can release an anti-inflammatory drug. If it senses a lack of oxygen, it can release molecules that recruit blood-vessel-forming cells to the heart.”

The results of this research were not long ago published in the journal Nature Materials.

Source: American Friends of Tel Aviv University

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