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New alternative to pacemakers being tested in the United States

Heart disease impacts the lives of thousands of people in Ireland. There may now be a new way of providing a constant monitoring system for the human heart according to researchers in the United States. John Rogers from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and a team of researchers have developed a prototype of a silicone sheath that could one day be slipped over your organs to monitor health and treat disease.

This is the first bendy implant that could cover the entire surface of an organ. To test this new device Mr. Rogers and his team embedded 68 tiny sensors into a sheet of silicone that they fitted around a 3D printed replica of a rabbit heart. After that they moved this to a rabbit heart that kept beating outside the animal’s body.

The new prototype works by surrounding the heart and can be designed to include electrodes that stimulate the heart. The concept behind the device is that one day it could be used as an alternative to a standard pacemaker that is used to keep a person’s heartbeat steady and regular. The research team is already looking at how to adapt the system for other organs, including the brain.

The new technology could potentially have many benefits for those with organ diseases and the testing phase has gone so well that Mr. Rogers believes that the prototype will be used in the future on humans saying “Whether you exploit it in full 3D or not, being able to curve around a surface is very valuable. The idea could be applied to any organ.”


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