Virus creates pacemaker in living heart using the heart’s own cells
This is a pretty amazing advance. Traditionally, when a patient’s heart is malfunctioning, an electrical pacemaker is inserted to maintain a stable heart beat, but the technology has some associated risks and limitations. While it has only been tested so far in animals, the potential for a genetically modified virus to create a pacemaker out of the heart’s own cells is obviously very exciting. This BBC article has more:
The heartbeat is controlled by electrical signals and if these go awry the consequences can be fatal.
Scientists injected a genetically-modified virus into guinea pigs to turn part of their heart into a new, working pacemaker.
The study was published in the journal Nature Biotechnology.
A human heart is made up of billions of cells, but researchers say fewer than 10,000 are responsible for controlling the heartbeat.
Age and disease can lead to problems such as the heart pumping too fast or too slow - and it can even stop completely, in what is known as a cardiac arrest.