Journal of Clinical Investigation features research emerging from lab in ICM


Image result for natalia trayanova and patrick boyleThis week, The Journal of Clinical Investigation features an article on groundbreaking research from the laboratory of Dr. Natalia Trayanova, Murray B. Sachs Professor of biomedical engineering, in collaboration with a team of researchers from the Institute of Physiology I at the University of Bonn, in Germany.

“Optogenetic defibrillation terminates ventricular arrhythmia in mouse hearts and human simulations,” first-authored by ICM core faculty member and assistant research professor Patrick M. Boyle, with German collaborator Tobias Bruegmann, reports findings that could pave the way for a new type of implantable defibrillator. Current devices designed to treat cardiac arrhythmia, an irregular heartbeat that can cause sudden death, deliver pulses of electricity that are extremely painful and can damage heart tissue. Light-based treatment, according to the research team, may provide a safer and gentler remedy. Dr. Boyle notes that the study highlights the important role that computational modeling can play in guiding and accelerating the development of therapeutic applications for cardiac optogenetics, a technology that is still in its infancy.

With results from tests conducted on beating mouse hearts by scientists at the University of Bonn, members of the Trayanova lab were able to perform an analogous experiment using a detailed computer model. They simulated a human heart, derived from MRI scans of a patient who had experienced a heart attack and was now at risk of arrhythmia. Dr. Boyle explained that red light, which has a longer wavelength, was found to be more effective in the virtual human tests, as opposed to the blue light used in mice.

“We are working towards optical defibrillation of the heart, where light will be given to a patient who is experiencing cardiac arrest, and we will be able to restore the normal functioning of the heart in a gentle and painless manner,” said Dr. Trayanova. This new method is still in its beginning phases, with researchers predicting at least five to ten years before maturity.

The JHU Hub as well as the UK edition of the Huffington Post have released articles on this exciting research.

JHU - Institute for Computational Medicine