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Biotech Medicine Hardware

Researchers Build Water Soluble Chips 52

angry tapir writes "Researchers in the U.S. have developed integrated circuits that can stick to the skin like a child's tattoo and in some cases dissolve in water when they're no longer needed. The 'bio chips' can be worn comfortably on the body to help diagnose and treat illnesses. The circuits are so thin that when they're peeled away from the body they hang like a sliver of dead skin, with a tangle of fine wires visible under a microscope. Similar circuits could one day be wrapped around the heart like 'an electronic pericardium' to correct irregularities such as arrhythmia."
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Researchers Build Water Soluble Chips

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  • by unkiereamus ( 1061340 ) on Tuesday December 11, 2012 @11:01AM (#42250493)
    This is speculation, but I'm betting this has less of an application for pacemaking than it does for correcting a conduction induced arrhythmia.

    Under normal circumstances, an electrical impulse is generated in the SA node at the top of the heart, then spreads through a defined path, first inervating the atria, a quick stop in the AV node which slows the conduction down for half a beat (haha, I'm so funny.), then continues down to activate the ventricles.

    Heart attacks kill muscle, and one of the big effects of that, aside from the loss of contractile force, is the fact that dead muscle doesn't conduct very well, so the electical impulse will start doing all sorts of interesting things to route around the problem, which can lead to the ventricles and atria firing in odd sequences.

    This circuit could potentially provide a new route for the impulse which would more closely mimic the original path, and restore a normal(ish) rhythm.

    Extending further out into speculation land, it's possible that with very precise control, and a reasonably powerful computer running the thing, you could correct atrial fibrillation, which would be all sorts of good.

    Finally, as to the implantation, I know that people are starting to do endoscopic Coronary Artery Bypass Grafts, which means that it's possible to work inside the pericardial sac without cracking the chest, I see no real reason that applying this circuitry couldn't be performed in the same way. Yes it's still going to knock people down for longer than a pacemaker implant will, but then, it's doing way more than a pacemaker does.

How many NASA managers does it take to screw in a lightbulb? "That's a known problem... don't worry about it."