ISRAEL DOES IT AGAIN: Tel Aviv University’s cyborg cardiac patch could replace heart transplants
Researchers are currently examining how his proof of concept could apply to the brain and spinal cord to treat neurological conditions.
Electronics melded with living tissues have been used by Tel Aviv University researchers to create a self-regulating “cyborg cardiac patch” to save lives of people with diseased hearts. Their study has just been published in the prestigious journal Nature Materials.
With the number of donor hearts for transplants very limited around the world, more than a quarter of Americans on the national waiting list for a heart will die before receiving one. But now there seems to be an alternative.
The new patch, invented by Prof. Tal Dvir and doctoral student Ron Feiner of TAU’s Biotechnology Department, the Department of Materials Science and Engineering, and its Center for Nanoscience and Nanotechnology may singlehandedly change the field of cardiac research, they said.
The capabilities of the bionic heart patch even surpass those of human tissue alone, they said, as it contracts and expands like human heart tissue but regulates itself like a machine.
“With this heart patch, we have integrated electronics and living tissue,” said Dvir.
“It seems like science fiction, but it’s already here, and we expect it to move cardiac research forward in a big way. Until now, we could engineer organic cardiac tissue with only mixed results. Now we have produced viable bionic tissue that ensures that heart tissue will function properly.”
But it will take time.
“This is a breakthrough, to be sure,” he said, “but I would not suggest binging on hamburgers or quitting sports just yet. The practical realization of the technology may take some time. Meanwhile, a healthy lifestyle is still the best way to keep your heart healthy.”
Dvir’s lab has been at the forefront of cardiac research for the last five years, harnessing sophisticated nanotechnological tools to develop functional substitutes for tissue permanently damaged by heart attacks and cardiac disease. The new cyborg cardiac patch not only replaces organic tissue but also ensures its sound functioning through remote monitoring.
“We first ensured that the cells would contract in the patch, which explains the need for organic material,” said Dvir. “But, just as importantly, we needed
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