BioTex - apropos

  Development of a biological electric cable for children's hearts in the laboratory Copyright: © Peter Winandy

Development of a biological cardiac pacemaker

The heart beats more than three billion times in the course of a lifetime. A signal transmitter on the heart ensures the right rhythm. But even newborns can suffer from disorders with life-threatening consequences. If the transmission of the signal from the atrium to the ventricles is partially or completely interrupted, electronic pacemakers have so far been able to overcome this blockage. However, the rigid, technical pacemakers do not grow with the young body. They have to be replaced regularly. Numerous stressful and increasingly risky operations are inevitable. Stefan Jockenhövel from the Helmholtz Institute for Biomedical Engineering at RWTH Aachen University, biomedical implants are the solution.

Growing cells instead of rigid apparatuses

Together with his colleagues, Prof. Jockenhövel is developing so-called biohybrid implants, i.e. implants that consist partly of artificial materials and partly of the body's own cells - such as the biohybrid cardiac pacemaker for children with heart disease. The so-called BioPacer consists of a conductive cable made of the body's own cells that enables the disturbed transmission of the pacemaker signal. The advantage: Biological pacemakers are not subject to battery replacement, adapt to the child's anatomy, minimize the risk of infection and help to avoid stressful operations.

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