Israeli scientists have developed a proof-of-concept bionic patch to monitor and repair diseased hearts. Ben Gruber reports.
In this Lab at the University of Tel Aviv, the future of heart medicine is taking shape. Researchers have developed a bionic patch that can monitor and treat heart conditions in real time. (SOUNDBITE) (English) PROFESSOR TAL DVIR OF TEL AVIV UNIVERSITY'S DEPARTMENT OF BIO TECHNOLOGY, DEPARTMENT OF MATERIAL SCIENCE AND ENGINEERING AND THE CENTER FOR NANO TECHNOLOGY, SAYING: "Well, this is the first time that engineered tissue, thick engineered tissue, functional tissues, are integrated with electronics to become cyborg tissues, meaning that there is integration of machine and living tissues." That integration could potentially give doctors new options when treating a myriad of heart problems. The patch is comprised of live, lab-grown heart tissue and nano electronics embedded on a 3D printed scaffold. The team says the patch could offer an alternative to heart transplantation in the future by releasing medications as well as repopulating the defected area with cells that are capable of contraction. In the short term, the device could monitor and activate the entire organ as needed as well as alert a doctor to a potentially fatal problem in real time. (SOUNDBITE) (English) PROFESSOR TAL DVIR OF TEL AVIV UNIVERSITY'S DEPARTMENT OF BIO TECHNOLOGY, DEPARTMENT OF MATERIAL SCIENCE AND ENGINEERING AND THE CENTER FOR NANO TECHNOLOGY, SAYING: "The patient is sitting in his house and not feeling well and the physician immediately sees the condition of the heart on his computer and can remotely activate the heart: can provide electrical stimulation, can release drugs. And if you really think about this technology, we don't even need a physician because the cardiac patch can regulate its own function." As exciting as it may be, the bionic heart patch is still years from commercial viability. The next step is a series of animals trials that if successful could lead to clinical trials in humans. The findings were published this month in the Journal 'Nature Materials'.