The Rise Of The Cyborg

Researchers from UCLA and the University of Connecticut have designed a new biofriendly energy storage system called a biological supercapacitor, which operates using charged particles, or ions, from fluids in the human body. The device is harmless to the body’s biological systems, and it could lead to longer-lasting cardiac pacemakers and other implantable medical devices like artificial heart.

The UCLA team was led by Richard Kaner, a distinguished professor of chemistry and biochemistry, and of materials science and engineering, and the Connecticut researchers were led by James Rusling, a professor of chemistry and cell biology. A paper about their design was published this week in the journal Advanced Energy Materials.

Pacemakers — which help regulate abnormal heart rhythms — and other implantable devices have saved countless lives. But they’re powered by traditional batteries that eventually run out of power and must be replaced, meaning another painful surgery and the accompanying risk of infection. In addition, batteries contain toxic materials that could endanger the patient if they leak.

The researchers propose storing energy in those devices without a battery. The supercapacitor they invented charges using electrolytes from biological fluids like blood serum and urine, and it would work with another device called an energy harvester, which converts heat and motion from the human body into electricity — in much the same way that self-winding watches are powered by the wearer’s body movements. That electricity is then captured by the supercapacitor.

Combining energy harvesters with supercapacitors can provide endless power for lifelong implantable devices that may never need to be replaced,” said Maher El-Kady, a UCLA postdoctoral researcher and a co-author of the study.

Source: http://newsroom.ucla.edu/

Bionic Cardiac Patch

Scientists have built a “bioniccardiac patch that could act similarly to a pacemaker and monitor as well as respond to cardiac problems, a kind of nanocomputer. 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.

bionic cardiac patch

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 pacemakerdelivering 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.

Source: http://www.eurekalert.org/

Biological Pacemaker To Save Babies Life

Cardiologists at the Cedars-Sinai Heart Institute have developed a minimally invasive gene transplant procedure that changes unspecialized heart cells into “biological pacemaker” cells that keep the heart steadily beating. The laboratory animal research, in the journal Science Translational Medicine, publishes results that summarize a dozen years of research with the goal of developing biological treatments for patients with heart rhythm disorders who currently are treated with surgically implanted pacemakers. In the United States, an estimated 300,000 patients receive pacemakers every year.

baby

We have been able, for the first time, to create a biological pacemaker using minimally invasive methods and to show that the biological pacemaker supports the demands of daily life,” said Eduardo Marbán, MD, PhD, director of the Cedars-Sinai Heart Institute, who led the research team. “We also are the first to reprogram a heart cell in a living animal in order to effectively cure a disease.”

Babies still in the womb cannot have a pacemaker, but we hope to work with fetal medicine specialists to create a life-saving catheter-based treatment for infants diagnosed with congenital heart block,” Cingolani said. “It is possible that one day, we might be able to save lives by replacing hardware with an injection of genes.”

This work by Dr. Marbán and his team heralds a new era of gene therapy, in which genes are used not only to correct a deficiency disorder, but to actually turn one kind of cell into another type,” said Shlomo Melmed, dean of the Cedars-Sinai faculty.

Source: http://www.cedars-sinai.edu/

Nano Pacemaker To Extend Cardiac Patients Life

A new type of pacemaker develped by a research team from the University of Bath and the Univerity of Bristol – U.K. – could revolutionise the lives of millions people who live with heart failure in the world. The British Heart Foundation (BHF) is awarding funding to researchers developing a new type of heart pacemaker that modulates its pulses to match breathing rates. Currently, the pulses from pacemakers are set at a constant rate when fitted which doesn’t replicate the natural beating of the human heart. The normal healthy variation in heart rate during breathing is lost in cardiovascular disease and is an indicator for sleep apnoea, cardiac arrhythmia, hypertension, heart failure and sudden cardiac death.
The device works by saving the heart energy, improving its pumping efficiency and enhancing blood flow to the heart muscle itself. Pre-clinical trials suggest the device gives a 25 per cent increase in the pumping ability, which is expected to extend the life of patients with heart failure.


This is a multidisciplinary project with strong translational value. By combining fundamental science and nanotechnology we will be able to deliver a unique treatment for heart failure which is not currently addressed by mainstream cardiac rhythm management devices,” explains Dr Alain Nogaret, Senior Lecturer in Physics at the University of Bath.
One aim of the project is to miniaturise the pacemaker device to the size of a postage stamp and to develop an implant that could be used in humans within five years.
The findings of the research have been published recently in the Journal of Neuroscience Methods.

Source: http://www.bath.ac.uk/

Pacemaker for Ever

 

A team in Japan has  reported in a post to the Journal  Angewandte Chemie International Edition that  pacemakers can keep using the same batteries indefinitively. They have found  a mechanism for remotely recharging them from outside the body by converting laser light into thermal energy and subsequently to electricity. The main purpose of this study was to show that it is possible to remotely control electrical energy generation by laser light that can be transmitted through living tissue in order to target various bionic applications implanted in the body.

 "Among various power sources for implanted medical devices, our system is a promising candidate because of its excellent ability to obtain energy directly from external and non-contact laser light and because its production of electricity can be controlled by laser light intensity," said  Dr. Eijiro Miyako, a research scientist at the Health Research Institute (HRI) at the National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology (AIST) In Osaka – Japan.
Source; http://unit.aist.go.jp/hri/en/group/nrg/