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Innovation

Wireless pacemaker dissolves in the body

Northwestern University and George Washington University Wireless, battery-free pacemaker made of biocompatible materialNorthwestern University and George Washington University

Researchers at Northwestern University and George Washington Universities, both in the USA, have developed a wireless, battery-free pacemaker. Made of biocompatible components that absorb bodily fluids, it fully dissolves in seven weeks, eliminating the need for surgery to remove it and reducing the risk of infections and blood clots caused by the wires and batteries in currently used devices (Nature Biotechnology, June 28). Weighing less than half a gram and just 250 micrometers thick, the device contains electrodes that are attached to the surface of the heart to deliver an electrical pulse. It collects energy from a remote external antenna using communication protocols similar to those used by smartphones to make electronic payments. The device proved efficient at regulating heart rhythms in experimental models (mice, rabbits, dogs, and human beings). If progress continues, it could be used by people who need temporary stimulation after heart surgery or while waiting for a permanent pacemaker.

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