A cellulose membrane that can reduce the buildup of fibrotic tissue around cardiac pacemakers has been developed by ETH Zurich, Switzerland, scientists. The next experimental step is to test the protective membrane in patients.

The material can reduce fibrotic build up and make subsequent surgical removal of implants much easier. So far, the pouch-like device has been tested successfully in pigs, and the researchers hope to apply for clinical trials in conjunction with an ETH spin-off company called Hylomorph, with the eventual goal of commercializing the technology.

The development could greatly simplify surgical procedures for patients with cardiac pacemakers. This latest technology is intended to protect cardiac pacemakers from the growth of fibrotic tissue. Fibrosis is a serious issue for pacemakers, which are intended for long-term implantation.

Aldo Ferrari, a researcher involved in the study. said that,

Every pacemaker has to be replaced at some point. When this time comes, typically after about five years when the device’s battery expires, the patient has to undergo surgery.

To overcome this matter, Ferrari and his colleagues at ETH Zurich spent the last few years developing a special membrane with a particular surface structure that is less conducive to the expansion of fibrotic tissue than the even metal surface of the pacemaker. Ferrari is already working with fellow researchers at the Wyss Zurich research center, to make it market-ready for use in patients as the membrane has now already been patented.

However, the trials are slated to start next year at three cardiac centers in Germany.