In a significant breakthrough, Israeli researchers from Tel Aviv University say they have engineered a bionic heart patch.
The “cyborg heart patch,” as it’s been dubbed, combines organic and engineered parts and offers capabilities that surpass those of human tissue alone.
The smart tissue is transplanted into patients where it monitors and regulates tissue function. The smart tissue will help the heart beat and intervene when it’s not functioning properly, and provide an exact and regular report to the patient and cardiologist.
Additionally, electronic particles interwoven into the tissue will also know how and when to release anti-inflammatory drugs, all in real time.
The patch’s research team was headed by Dr. Tal Dvir, who says that heart diseases are the leading cause of death in the West, with heart attacks being most prevalent.
“Statistics show that 50% of those who suffered serious heart attacks will die within five years,” said Dvir. “What we are trying to do is invent alternative tissues to internal organs in general, and to engineer heart tissue specifically.”
The most ambitious development by Dvir and doctoral student Ron Feiner is integrating electronic components into engineered tissue.
“The idea is to monitor heart activity online using nano-electronics, and when necessary regulate the engineered tissue activity — and even to release drugs at the push of a button with the help of special polymers we developed,” said Dvir.
Dvir and Feiner, of Tel Aviv University’s Biotechnology Department, Materials Science and Engineering Department, and Center for Nanoscience and Nanotechnology, published their findings in the journal Nature Materials on Monday.
Dvir is also examining how his proof of concept could apply to the brain and spinal cord to treat neurological conditions.