This is not a cyborg testicle. It‘s an elasticated, sensor-packed silicon membrane that has been fitted around a removed-but-still-beating rabbit heart. The sheath is tailor-made to fit snugly around the heart without ever impeding its beats. Hugging the heart’s surface, the sensors monitor several markers of cardiac health in unprecedented detail – including pumping rhythm and changes in pH that can result from restricted blood flow, which can serve as early indicator of an impending heart attack. There’s also a plan to add components to the prototype that can stimulate the heart to enable the delivery of targeted electric shocks to correct abnormal rhythms. If they can be engineered to work in humans, these form-fitting heart membranes would be an upgrade on existing implantable pacemakers and defibrillators, which are not very sensitive when it comes to monitoring and not very good at targeted therapeutic stimulation.
Written by Daniel Cossins
BPoD stands for Biomedical Picture of the Day. Managed by the MRC London Institute of Medical Sciences the website aims to engage everyone, young and old, in the wonders of biomedicine. Images are kindly provided for inclusion on this website through the generosity of scientists across the globe.
BPoD is also available in Catalan at www.bpod.cat with translations by the University of Valencia.