Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Science Replaces Science, Makes a Better Pacemaker

Irregular heartbeats affect more than 2 million Americans. According to our friends at Wikipedia, about 300,000 people die from this condition each year. To fight back, science developed the electronic pacemaker, which 250,000 Americans have implanted each year. But some scientists are working on a new, organic solution.

Researchers from around the world -- UC Davis, Hong Kong, Johns Hopkins University and others -- are working on a bioengineering process that can restore the heart's natural pace-making abilities, reports

The heart loses rhythm when its natural pacemaker, a clump of nerve cells called the sinoatrial (SA) node, is damaged by aging or disease. The new process being developed by researchers may restore damaged SA nodes by delivering a gene which encodes a "bioengineered cell-surface protein" to regular heart cells. This process transforms the regular cells into artificial SA nodes by replicating proteins called HCN ion channels, which keep your heart beating regularly.

Successful tests of this process have already been carried out on animals as large as pigs.

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I started pound360 to channel my obsession with vitamins, running and the five senses. Eventually, I got bored focusing on all that stuff, so I came back from a one month hiatus in May of 2007 (one year after launching Pound360) and broadened my mumblings here to include all science.