Researchers have used carbon nanotube fibers, each thinner than the width of a human hair, to repair damaged hearts in the lab and deliver electrical signals to keep the hearts beating.
The researchers noted that ventricular arrhythmias are the main cause of sudden cardiac death. The condition, which involves disorganized firing of electrical impulses from the heart’s lower chambers, is challenging to treat in patients who have had a heart attack or have scarred heart tissue. Although a variety of drugs are available to treat the condition, doctors need better options.
In the study, researchers built upon previous studies that demonstrated that carbon nanotubes can be transformed into conductive fibers. In rodent models, the researchers showed that these thin, flexible fibers could be sewed onto damaged hearts and were effective in restoring heart function whether the initial conduction was slowed, severed, or blocked. The conduction stopped when the fibers, which are also biocompatible, were removed. Human testing is still several years away, they noted.
The study, funded in part by NHLBI, appeared in Circulation: Arrhythmia and Electrophysiology, a publication of the American Heart Association.