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Researchers create pacemaker that dissolves over time

What a time to be alive.

dissolving pacemaker designed by northwestern university
Image: Northwestern University

A dissolving pacemaker has been invented that disappears after it’s no longer needed. It is perfect for patients waiting for cardiac surgery or those who might only need a temporary boost to their heart rhythm.

Researchers at both Northwestern University and George Washington University comprise the team that created the dissolving pacemaker.

First showed off last year, the pacemaker has now been paired to a series of wireless sensors to be worn on the outside of the skin. The sensor network enables the pacemaker to adjust its pacing based on the patient’s biomarkers.

The coolest thing, however, is the dissolving design of the pacemaker. Check it out in the GIF below. The pacemaker is unrecognizable after 20 days, with it completely dissolving by day 60.

via GIPHY

Designed to be completely biocompatible, nothing in the pacemaker can trigger a toxic or immune response by the body. It also doesn’t need batteries or leads (wires connected to the heart) to function. Another module attached to the skin provides wireless power to the device instead.

Patients fitted with one wouldn’t need a second operation to remove the device. With this pacemaker, the risk of secondary infection is effectively zero.

It’s still early days for the dissolving pacemaker. While it’s been proven in the lab so far, they need to test larger animal studies. Then it’s on to human trials. Still, it could only be a few years until this lifesaving device could reach the clinic, benefiting tens of thousands of patients.

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