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heartfoundation.org.au|Helpline 13 11 12

Optical pacing of the heart

Dr Damia Mawad. Institution: University of New South Wales

2021 Vanguard Grant  

Years funded: 2022-2024

Electronic pacing devices, such as the pacemaker or the defibrillator, are required when the conduction system is unable to sustain regular heart contraction.  These devices are typically made of a pulse generator, electrodes, and a battery. Despite their tremendous therapeutic benefits, their use entail complications including infection risk at multiple sites in the body, dislodgement/failure of the leads/electrodes due to repetitive mechanical stress, and revision surgeries for battery replacement.  Here, Dr Damia Mawad and team propose an optical pacing technology to overcome these challenges. The team will demonstrate that a thin film patch fabricated from soft materials that can convert optical signal into electric signal (optoelectronic) can adhere intimately to cardiac tissue without sutures, modulating its electrophysiology upon light illumination. The outcome will be an optical pacing technology that is leadless, lightweight, and durable. This is a highly desirable outcome to minimize preventable patient harm and healthcare costs.


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