Research ArticleBioengineering

Electromechanical cardioplasty using a wrapped elasto-conductive epicardial mesh

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Science Translational Medicine  22 Jun 2016:
Vol. 8, Issue 344, pp. 344ra86
DOI: 10.1126/scitranslmed.aad8568

An electromechanical hug for the heart

Heart failure can be treated by pacemakers to keep the beats in rhythm, but pacemakers apply electrical stimulation at specific points and do not provide comprehensive coverage of the entire organ. Park and colleagues therefore devised an electric mesh that wraps around the heart to deliver electrical impulses to the whole ventricular myocardium. The heart wrap was made from silver nanowires embedded in a rubber polymer that could conform to the unique three-dimensional anatomy of different hearts. In rats that had a heart attack, the mesh integrated structurally and electrically with the myocardium and exerted beneficial effects, including preserved diastolic relaxation, reduced wall stress, and improved cardiac contractile function. The mesh also terminated induced ventricular arrhythmia, acting as an epicardial defibrillator. Such epicardial meshes have been tested in clinical trials before and were effective in preventing ventricular remodeling but showed controversial results in long-term survival. The authors hope that their device, which is designed to integrate more faithfully with the heart’s structure and electrical conduction system, is more consistent in people.