22 Apr '16
Russian biologists and physicists have developed technology enabling cardiac cell control with a laser. This is expected to pave the way for creating future solutions that may help rectify cardiac tissue excitability in arrhythmia cases, the Russian news agency RIA Novosti , citing a in PLoS One.
“The current result may be very useful for clinical trial testing of heart functionality mechanisms. In the future, we might learn to be able to counter arrhythmia attacks by simply pressing a button,” said Konstantin Agladze, the key author of the article and a researcher at Moscow’s MIPT, or Phystech.
Mr. Agladze and his colleagues from this top technology university are working to create a method of growing artificial cardiac tissue and be able to control its operation. The muscle tissue growth stage is over; now the researchers are looking for ways of sensitizing it at will. They once began the research in Kyoto in partnership with their Japanese colleagues, but it’s only now and at MIPT that the effort has borne fruit.
The Russians and Japanese found that heartbeat can be controlled using a special substance called azoTAB (azobenzene trimethylammonium bromide). This aromatic compound, or arene, can exist in two forms, the scientists discovered. One has no impact on the way the cardiac muscle works; the other suppresses heartbeat.
The MIPT researchers are reported to have used a UV spectrum laser to “switch” azoTAB from one of its forms to the other, thus making it possible to control cardiac muscle contraction in various points of its surface area by exposing some specific parts of the surface to UV beams.
As the scientists further found, the substance does not block cardiac cells irrevocably; it can be easily removed from cardiomyocyte monolayers, thus getting the monolayers to work the way they did before azoTAB was added. The MIPT researchers believe this opens opportunities for clinical research in an effort to develop effective arrhythmia therapies.