Research ArticleBioengineering

Cell-selective arrhythmia ablation for photomodulation of heart rhythm

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Science Translational Medicine  28 Oct 2015:
Vol. 7, Issue 311, pp. 311ra172
DOI: 10.1126/scitranslmed.aab3665

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For heart cells only

Abnormal heartbeats, called arrhythmias, can be stopped by photoablation, but the use of light energy to terminate malfunctioning cardiomyocytes runs the risk of damaging the other dozen or so cell types in the heart. To be more specific in photoablation, Avula and colleagues devised a heart cell–targeted photosensitizer, which could be delivered systemically. Laser light was then used to ablate only cardiomyocytes while leaving the surrounding fibroblasts and other cells intact. The approach was tested in vivo in rodents and in sheep and rat hearts ex vivo, demonstrating that the technology is indeed able to avoid fibroblasts and block electrical conduction, returning the heart to its normal rhythm.