Step towards developing an intelligent cardiac patch

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A team of researchers has generated nanoscale electronic scaffolds that can be incorporated into cardiac cells to generate a bionic cardiac mark. Once introduced, the bionic mark could act similar to a pacemaker and deliver electronic shocks for rectifying asthma, but this is not it, there are more possibilities that can be availed with this research work.

Doctors and scientists over the decades have made huge leaps in the correction of cardiac troubles – specifically with the identification of cardiac issues – specifically with the introduction of ‘cardiac patches or marks’ in the recent years. These are strips of engineered heart tissue, which can replace the damages caused to the heart muscle during a heart attack.

Researchers like Mark Hyman, Junior Professor of Chemistry and the Head of the Department of Chemical Biology and Chemistry, Lieber, fellow partner Xiaochuan Dai and other sub-authors of the research describes the creation of nanoscale electric scaffolds that can be implanted with cardiac cells to generate a ‘bionic’ cardiac patch.

“I think it is one of the greatest impacts that would bring huge transitions in the space that involves a change of damaged cardiac tissue with pre-formed tissue patches,” says Lieber. “Only by simply incorporating a structured patch made on a passive scaffold, our performance suggests it will be feasible to operationally incorporate an innervated patch that would be able to supervise and slowly adopt its performance.”

According to Leiber, once such patch is implanted, it could then act similarly to a pacemaker device and deliver an electronic shock for correcting various ailments, like asthma. “In this research work, we have illustrated that we can transform the direction and frequency of signal propagation,” he says. “We think that it could be highly critical for regulating arrhythmia and other cardiac troubles.”

Unlike conventional pacemakers, says Lieber, the bionic patch can generate more promising results, as its electrical elements are incorporated throughout the tissue and can identify arrhythmia much sooner and rectify at much lower voltages.

“Even before an individual begins to move into a large-scale arrhythmia that could regularly lead to irreversible damage or other heart sues, this could identify the initial-stage troubles and intervene earlier,” he says. “Also, it can regularly monitor the feedback from the active respond of the tissue.”

This patch might also be useful as a tool to supervise the responses under cardiac drugs, or to support pharmaceutical entities to screen the efficacy of drugs under development. Likewise, the bionic cardiac patch can also be a special platform for studying the behaviour of the tissue and evolve some developmental processes, like ischemia, and more.

Although the patch has not yet been tested on animals, it is expected that it would come out as an easily implantable and simpler system.

In the long run, Lieber considers that the development of nanoscale tissue scaffolds illustrates a novel paradigm for merging biology with electronics in a real-time seamless way. With the use of the injectable electrical technology, Lieber considers that same cardiac patches might be delivered simply by just an injection.