Cyborg Cardiac Patch may Treat the Diseased Heart

More than 25% of the people on the national US waiting list for a heart will die before receiving one. Despite this discouraging figure, heart transplants are still on the rise. There just hasn't been an alternative. Until now. The "cyborg heart patch," a new engineering innovation from Tel Aviv University, may single-handedly change the field of cardiac research. The bionic heart patch combines organic and engineered parts. In fact, its capabilities surpass those of human tissue alone. The patch contracts and expands like human heart tissue but regulates itself like a machine.

The invention is the brainchild of Prof. Tal Dvir and PhD student Ron Feiner of TAU's Department of Biotechnology, Department of Materials Science and Engineering, and Center for Nanoscience and Nanotechnology. Their study was published today in the journal Nature Materials.

Science fiction becomes science fact
"With this heart patch, we have integrated electronics and living tissue," Dr. Dvir said. "It's very science fiction, but it's already here, and we expect it to move cardiac research forward in a big way.

"Until now, we could only engineer organic cardiac tissue, with mixed results. Now we have produced viable bionic tissue, which ensures that the heart tissue will function properly."

Prof. Dvir's Tissue Engineering and Regenerative Medicine Lab at TAU has been at the forefront of cardiac research for the last five years, harnessing sophisticated nanotechnological tools to develop functional substitutes for tissue permanently damaged by heart attacks and cardiac disease. The new cyborg cardiac patch not only replaces organic tissue but also ensures its sound functioning through remote monitoring.

"We first ensured that the cells would contract in the patch, which explains the need for organic material," said Dr. Dvir. "But, just as importantly, we needed to verify what was happening in the patch and regulate its function. We also wanted to be able to release drugs from the patch directly onto the heart to improve its integration with the host body."

For the new bionic patch, Dr. Dvir and his team engineered thick bionic tissue suitable for transplantation. The engineered tissue features electronics that sense tissue function and accordingly provide electrical stimulation. In addition, electroactive polymers are integrated with the electronics. Upon activation, these polymers are able to release medication, such as growth factors or small molecules on demand.

Cardiac therapy in real time
"Imagine that a patient is just sitting at home, not feeling well," Dr. Dvir said. "His physician will be able to log onto his computer and this patient's file - in real time. He can view data sent remotely from sensors embedded in the engineered tissue and assess exactly how his patient is doing. He can intervene to properly pace the heart and activate drugs to regenerate tissue from afar.

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

Dr. Dvir is currently examining how his proof of concept could apply to the brain and spinal cord to treat neurological conditions.

"This is a breakthrough, to be sure," Dr. Dvir said. "But I would not suggest binging on cheeseburgers or quitting sports just yet. The practical realization of the technology may take some time. Meanwhile, a healthy lifestyle is still the best way to keep your heart healthy."

Tel Aviv University (TAU) is inherently linked to the cultural, scientific and entrepreneurial mecca it represents. It is one of the world's most dynamic research centers and Israel's most distinguished learning environment. Its unique-in-Israel multidisciplinary environment is highly coveted by young researchers and scholars returning to Israel from post-docs and junior faculty positions in the US.

American Friends of Tel Aviv University (AFTAU) enthusiastically and industriously pursues the advancement of TAU in the US, raising money, awareness and influence through international alliances that are vital to the future of this already impressive institution.

Most Popular Now

Kick-off Meeting for eHealth Hub: An Int…

The Kick-off Meeting of the eHealth Hub project took place on the 20th and 21st of October 2016, in Murcia (Spain). The meeting effectively launched the activities of a newly...

Read more

HIV Test Performed on USB Stick

Scientists have developed a type of HIV test on a USB stick. The device, created by scientists at Imperial College London and DNA Electronics, uses a drop of blood to...

Read more

Philips and Masimo Sign Multi-Year Busin…

Royal Philips (NYSE: PHG; AEX: PHIA) and Masimo Corporation (NASDAQ: MASI) today announced a wide-ranging, multi-year business partnership involving both companies' innovations in patient monitoring and therapy solutions. The partnership...

Read more

Major Health IT Event Opens with Recogni…

21 - 22 November 2016, Barcelona, Spain. The World of Health IT (WoHIT) has opened its doors to over 1,000 healthcare IT professionals from across 25 different countries worldwide. Covering a...

Read more

Emergency Video Telemedicine Positively …

Approximately 10 percent of newborns require help breathing after birth, and 1 in 1,000 newborns require more intensive resuscitation measures. These infrequent, high-risk deliveries may present challenges to community hospitals...

Read more

Frontiers Health 2016

17 - 18 November 2016, Berlin, Germany. Healthcare is being transformed and to a good extent will be disrupted by digital technologies. Frontiers Health has been designed to provide a unique...

Read more

Crack the Human Brain

The time is ripe, the communication technology is available, for teams from different labs and different countries to join efforts and apply new forms of grassroots collaborative research in brain...

Read more

EC Open Call SC1-PM-15-2017: Personalise…

The activity aims at developing and validating radically new ICT based concepts and approaches for empowering and motivating people in need of guidance and care due to age related conditions...

Read more

MEDICA and COMPAMED 2016 Provide a Power…

14 - 17 November 2016, Düsseldorf, Germany. Once again, the world's biggest medical trade fair MEDICA and the leading international supplier trade fair COMPAMED, which take place in Düsseldorf, have provided...

Read more

Open Call SC1-HCO-08-2017: Actions to Br…

Despite serious efforts deployed at national and European level, the European Union sees significant internal disparities in terms of research and innovation performance as also identified in the Innovation Union...

Read more

Chronically Ill Women Underusing Online …

Barriers to internet use may be preventing chronically ill middle-aged and older women from being as healthy as they otherwise could be, new research suggests. The study conducted by researchers...

Read more

MEDICA 2016 + COMPAMED 2016 with over 5…

14 - 17 November 2016, Düsseldorf, Germany. When top decision-makers in the healthcare business meet in Düsseldorf again in the middle of November at the world's leading medical trade fair, MEDICA...

Read more
(HEALTH IT) SPACE - Take a look at who has just Joined