Thin, flexible fibers made of carbon nanotubes have now proven able to bridge damaged heart tissues and deliver the electrical signals needed to keep those hearts beating.
Scientists at Texas Heart Institute (THI) report they have used biocompatible fibers invented at Rice University in studies that showed sewing them directly into damaged tissue can restore electrical function to hearts.
“Instead of shocking and defibrillating, we are actually correcting diseased conduction of the largest major pumping chamber of the heart by creating a bridge to bypass and conduct over a scarred area of a damaged heart,” said Dr. Mehdi Razavi, a cardiologist and director of Electrophysiology Clinical Research and Innovations at THI, who co-led the study with Rice chemical and biomolecular engineer Matteo Pasquali.
“Today there is no technology that treats the underlying cause of the No. 1 cause of sudden death, ventricular arrhythmias,” Razavi said. “These arrhythmias are caused by the disorganized firing of impulses from the heart’s lower chambers and are challenging to treat in patients after a heart attack or with scarred heart tissue due to such other conditions as congestive heart failure or dilated cardiomyopathy.”
Results of the studies on preclinical models appear as an open-access Editor’s Pick in the American Heart Association’s Circulation: Arrhythmia and Electrophysiology (“In Vivo Restoration of Myocardial Conduction With Carbon Nanotube Fibers”). The association helped fund the research with a 2015 grant.


Image Credit:  Texas Heart Institute

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