This New Membrane Will Keep Your Heart Beating...Forever!
Mar 03, 2014 11:18
This rabbit's heart is beating outside the animal that once hosted it. And it is alive! It is pumping blood on its own thanks to a new electronic membrane. One day, it could save your life by keeping your heart beating at a perfect rate.
The thin, circuit-lined stretchable membrane has been developed by scientists at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and Washington University in St. Louis. In 10 to 15 years, we may have a similar system for our hearts thanks to this.
The scientists made the membrane fit precisely to the shape of the rabbit's heart. They scanned it and created a 3D model using computer aided tomography, and manufactured the model in a 3D printer, and they used it as a mold to create the membrane. They took the heart out, applied the membrane, and kept it beating at a perfect pace.
The device is like an artificial pericardium, which is the natural membrane that covers the heart. According to researcher John Rorgers, co-leader of the team:
But this artificial pericardium is instrumented with high quality, man-made devices that can sense and interact with the heart in different ways that are relevant to clinical cardiology.
Washington University's biomedical engineer Igor Efimov says that it is a huge advancement. The circuits you're seeing are a combination of sensors that constantly track the tissues' behavior and electrodes that precisely regulate the heart muscles movement:
When it senses such a catastrophic event as a heart attack or arrhythmia, it can also apply a high definition therapy. So it can apply stimuli, electrical stimuli, from different locations on the device in an optimal fashion to stop this arrhythmia and prevent sudden cardiac death.
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