Have you ever had a broken heart? Now there’s a way to fix that... but perhaps not in the way you think.
Scientists in Israel have created a life-saving heart patch that can monitor and treat cardiac problems. Researchers at Tel Aviv University developed a revolutionary 3D printed patch, consisting of nano-electronics and live heart tissue grown in a lab. The device, which is applied to a damaged heart, can actually regenerate the cardiac muscle by building up cells in the part with a defect.
Co-inventor Tal Dvir, a professor in the Department of Biotechnogy, explained that “the role of the electronics is to sense the function of the tissue and then to activate the tissue when needed."
The device can also release medication for heart problems relating to inflammation or a lack of oxygen. And because the patch can expand like the heart but is also a self-regulating machine, a doctor can treat his patient from afar.
“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, provide electrical stimulation, and release drugs,” said Dvir.
For a heart permanently damaged by disease or a heart attack, the patch could become an alternative to a heart transplant. And it may lead to even more promising discoveries.
“We are trying to 3D print the whole heart, with the electronics within,” Dvir said. "And I believe that in the future, in 10-20 years, there would be such bionic organs in the market or in hospitals to be transplanted."
This cyborg heart patch still needs to be tested and it could be years before it’s available. But in the future, it may provide an alternative for people with heart disease.