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Not Mad Science: The Heart Beat You Can See From Across the Room


Written By: Brenda (B.K.) Walker

It may seem like "Mad Science," but it's real…the electronic heart membrane that you can see beating from across the room. Igor Efimov, a bioengineer at Washington University, along with John Rogers from the University of Illinois, led a tight knit group of researchers as they created this amazing new electronic membrane that functions much as the pericardium of your heart. And it is currently beating outside of its host, a rabbit, which is why you can see it beating from across the room!

For those with heart conditions, or loved one's suffering from heart conditions, or in the health care/medical field, the term "pericardium" is not new to you. For those less familiar, the pericardium is the anatomical term for the fibrous sac that surrounds the heart. It and its fluid are the lubricating force for the heart. When that's damaged, well, imagine how well your car would work without an oil pan or oil.

Efimov, Rogers, and the research team that worked tirelessly on this invention are offering new hope to millions of people around the world suffering with heart conditions. Sploid provides a fantastic picture of a rabbit's heart, encased in this incredible electronic membrane, beating, on its own, without the body of a rabbit.

Despite the obvious, "pun ability" of this article, Igor in association with Frankenstein and Rogers, along with the rabbit's heart being used (Roger Rabbit), I know…I know; this is life-changing science.

This is no ordinary implantable defibrillator or pacemaker. This device is custom made for the heart that it will encase by using 3D printing, along with highly sensitive/quality imaging and computer modeling. The membrane is a webbing with attached electrodes that provides stimuli to the heart, keeping it beating. It can even sense changes in the beat of the heart, such as an irregular heartbeat (arrhythmia) or heart attack, and send electrical therapy stimuli, possibly preventing a cataclysmic cardiac event.

Many are already aware of the amazing advances in medical science attributed to 3-D imaging and 3-D printing, not to mention the advances in pacemakers and implantable defibrillators. The field is even expanding into repairing broken bones, with greater ease and less time. The reality of a device that works in tandem with a heart is remarkable and gives hope to so many men, women, and children that suffer from a variety of cardiac conditions.

 

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