As a consequence of myocardial infarct, damaged heart tissue weakens the holistic heart function and it also fails the innate ability to conduct electricity good enough to transmit the heart’s signals. Commonly, Arrhythmias are resultant of this. Even though there are prescription drugs that can prove to be helpful to a few patients, these drugs can’t be prescribed to the patients after infarct.
In the recent time, researchers at Rice University have come up with biocompatible carbon nanotube fibres, which could be utilised as electrical bridges that spread across the heart tissues that are damaged. These fibres have been experimented on rodents and sheep that have scars on their hearts. It was observed that a great deal of the atrioventricular conduction required for adequate pacing was successfully restored by the fibres.
Unlike metals, nanofibers can easily merge with the human body and are quite flexible. However, they are naturally quite conductive. In order to connect the required areas of tissue with each other, the nanofibers are enveloped in a polymer coating with the tips exposed.
Nanofibers were shown to be in sync with pacemakers and not that toxic in the animal experiments. The electric function of the animals’ hearts moved to a much more diseased state as soon as the fibres were taken out from them. According to Mark McCauley, who conducted several of the experiments as a postdoctoral candidate at Texas Heart Institute, the re-creation of cardiac conduction with the help of carbon nanotube fibreshas the ability and potential to transform therapy for cardiac electrical disturbances—one of the most common causes of death in the United States. In the research, the next steps will incorporate ways to attach the electrode tips of the fibres using catheters in a better way and to examine whether the fibres have the capacity to resist the severity of being implanted onto a heart that is beating. Apart from that, it also needs to be considered whether patients with growing hearts could be helped by using nanofibers one day.
Nancy Lojas has a Pharmaceutical background. She is pursuing a Masters Degree from the University of Toronto and loves to write about research, discoveries & trends in the Healthcare sector.