New York, June 28 (IANS) Scientists have built a “bionic” cardiac patch that could act similarly to a pacemaker and monitor as well as respond to cardiac problems.
The researchers from Harvard University constructed nanoscale electronic scaffolds that can be seeded with cardiac cells to produce a bionic cardiac patch — the engineered heart tissue with ability to replace heart muscle damaged during a heart attack.
“I think one of the biggest impacts would ultimately be in the area that involves replaced of damaged cardiac tissue with pre-formed tissue patches,” said Charles Lieber, who along with colleagues described the work in the journal Nature Nanotechnology.
“Rather than simply implanting an engineered patch built on a passive scaffold, our works suggests it will be possible to surgically implant an innervated patch that would now be able to monitor and subtly adjust its performance,” he added.
Once implanted, the “bionic” patch could act similarly to a pacemaker — delivering electrical shocks to correct arrhythmia.
Unlike traditional pacemakers, the “bionic” patch — because its electronic components are integrated throughout the tissue — can detect arrhythmia far sooner, and operate at far lower voltages.
“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. “It can also continuously monitor the feedback from the tissue and actively respond,” he added.
The patch might also find use as a tool to monitor the responses under cardiac drugs, or to help pharmaceutical companies to screen the effectiveness of drugs under development.