Using Light Instead of Electric Jolts to Restore Heartbeats
By Emily Farr, Ivanhoe Health Correspondent
(Ivanhoe Newswire) –The treatment for when a beating heart slips into an irregular, life-threatening rhythm is common: deliver a jolt of electric current from a defibrillator or pacemaker. However, apparently the pain associated with the shock feels like a horse kicks you in the chest and can cause series side-effects. Researchers at Johns Hopkins and Stony Brook want to replace these jolts with a gentler remedy, light.
Researchers are using optogenetics, which refers to the insertion of light-responsive proteins called opsins into cells. When the proteins are exposed to light, they become tiny portals within the target cells and allow a stream of ions-an electric charge- to pass through. The project’s supervisor Natalia Trayanova, the Murray B. Sachs Professor of Biomedical Engineering at Johns Hopkins, and her team successfully tested this technique on a heart, one that “beats” inside a computer.
“There are still many issues that will need to be resolved, but we all hope that this would be indeed an important breakthrough. Another aspect of medical innovation here is the use of a sophisticated modeling methodology as a virtual reality. We will see in the future a lot more simulations leading experimental research and also patient-specific simulations of heart function for guidance of therapies,” Trayanova told Ivanhoe.
For more information, go to: http://releases.jhu.edu/2013/08/27/researchers-aim-to-use-light-not-electric-jolts-to-restore-healthy-heartbeats/
SOURCE: Nature Communications, September 2013
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