Rabbit heart gets full electrode jacket

By embedding sensors in a thin sheath of silicon, scientists have created a jacket that can slip around a rabbit's heart and measure how specific regions of the organ react to temperature changes, low blood flow and other types of stress.

Rogers et al./Nature Comm. 2014

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Wrapping a rabbit’s heart in a sensor-studded silicon sheath has given scientists the ability to measure the contractions, acid levels and other characteristics of specific regions across the entire surface of the organ.

The sheath makes it possible for scientists to place the sensors on specific areas of the heart without glue or stitches, yet the device is flexible enough that it does not constrict the natural pumping of the muscle, researchers report February 25 in Nature Communications.

The design has the potential to be developed as an implant around human hearts and to be used for diagnosing and treating deadly diseases of the organ, but limitations with power, control and insertion of the device have to be worked out first, the authors write.

Ashley Yeager is the associate news editor at Science News. She has worked at The Scientist, the Simons Foundation, Duke University and the W.M. Keck Observatory, and was the web producer for Science News from 2013 to 2015. She has a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, and a master’s degree in science writing from MIT.

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