This heart is wrapped in a special electronic membrane that keeps it beating at the perfect rate. Researchers from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and Washington University in St. Louis developed the new membrane to wrap around hearts like a custom-made glove. A spiderweb-like network of specialized electrodes continuously monitor the heart’s electrical activity to keep it beating around the clock at a healthy rate.

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The researchers presented their study with a working version of the membrane wrapped around a rabbit’s heart. First they used high-resolution imaging, computer modeling, and a 3D printer to create a plastic model of the heart. Then the scientists used the model as a mold for the elastic membrane. The plastic glove not only fits around the heart perfectly but also expands and contracts as the organ pumps blood.

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This membrane is only one part of the equation though. The special sauce is actually a network of sensors and electrodes that monitors the glove and direct an electrical charge tospecific parts of the heart. Unlike a pacemaker or implantable defibrillators, the membrane acts more like a one size fits all implantable device.

“When it senses such a catastrophic event as a heart attack or arrhythmia, it can also apply a high-definition therapy,” Igor Efimov, a Washington University biomedical engineer, said in a release. “So it can apply stimuli, electrical stimuli, from different locations on the device in an optimal fashion to stop this arrhythmia and prevent sudden cardiac death.”

+ University of Illinois

Via Gizmodo

Images © University of Illinois

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