Battery-Free Light-Powered Pacemaker for Cardiac Patients

Source: Medical Xpress

Battery-free light-powered pacemaker, a new hope for patients with heart diseases.

Pacemakers are a lifesaver because they regulate the heartbeat of people who suffer from chronic heart diseases. For example, atrial fibrillation and other types of arrhythmias. But unfortunately, implanting a pacemaker is an invasive procedure and tremendously painful. Moreover, they can only treat specific disease types.

The paper was published in Science Advances, in which, the team of researchers wrote about a wireless, battery-free pacemaker. Their design could be implanted using a less invasive procedure in contrast to the current techniques. Additionally, it will also be less painful. Researchers in the Gutruf Lab helmed the study, led by Craig.M Berge Faculty of Fellow Philip Gutruf.

The pacemakers used currently work through implanting one or two heads, or points of contact into the heart using screws and hooks. Moreover, if any irregularity is detected by the sensors, they send an electrical shock via the heart for resetting the beat.

Gutruf said,

All of the cells inside the heart get hit at one time, including the pain receptors, and that’s what makes pacing or defibrillation painful

It affects the heart muscle as a whole.

Targeted Pacemaker

Although the device hasn’t been tested on humans yet, it will allow pacemakers to send targeted signals through the digitally manufactured mesh design. It also encompasses the entire heart. Moreover, the device uses optogenetics techniques and light.

Optogenetics modifies cells, mostly neurons, which are sensitive to light. Then, it uses light to affect the behaviour of those cells. This technique only uses cardiomyocytes. Cardiomyocytes are muscle cells that trigger a contraction and make up the heartbeat.

This precision will help in reducing pain for pacemakers by bypassing the pain receptors of the heart. Furthermore, it will allow the pacemaker to respond to different irregularities appropriately. For example, the upper and lower chambers of the heartbeat asynchronously in atrial fibrillation. However, the role of a pacemaker is to synchronize the two parts.

Professor Igor Efimov whose university labs the devices were tested in further explained,

Whereas right now, we have to shock the whole heart to do this, these new devices can do much more precise targeting, making defibrillation both more effective and less painful,

This technology could make life easier for patients all over the world, while also helping scientists and physicians learn more about how to monitor and treat the disease.


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