Development of a clinically relavent biological pacemaker for the pediatric population
Emmer, Sawyer Franklin
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Electronic pacemakers have been instrumental in saving the lives of pediatric patients who are either born with or acquire an irregular heartbeat or a blocked conduction system. Although the current pacing model has saved the lives of many children, the associated negative side effects have exacerbated the need for a biological alternative. This thesis will present various ways that researchers have generated spontaneously active cardiac tissue. Laboratories across the country have formulated unique ways to generate such a node through gene and/or cell-based approaches. Following many years of experiments in animal models, cardiac researchers are currently assessing the positive aspects and drawbacks of each method in order to find the best way to generate a safe, long lasting, and financially practical biological pacemaker. Although a great deal of progress has been made on the development of a bioengineered spontaneously active node, there remains a need for more analysis of each model before they are tested in humans. Scientists have conducted preliminary, proof-of-concept experiments which have given pediatric patients, their families, and physicians hope for a biological alternative in the future. With every novel experiment, the scientific community is getting closer to creating an biological alternative that will last a lifetime, grow with the patient, and respond to adrenergic stimuli. Hopefully, when a biological pacemaker has been developed and tested, this extensive research will vastly improve the quality of life of arrhythmic pediatric patients.
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