Designing Implantable Cardiac Devices to Study Heart Failure

August 10, 2023

Professor Luyao Lu

Heart failure is a life-threatening condition associated with derangements in multiple cardiac biophysical parameters that impacts the quality of life in millions of Americans. Those cardiac physiological parameters work in concert during heart failure and, unfortunately, cannot be fully understood in isolation during long-term in vivo heart failure development and treatment by using existing approaches.

With the help of an R01 award from the National Institutes of Health, Assistant Professor Luyao Lu from the Biomedical Engineering Department will work on designing and developing an ambitious yet feasible new solution to this issue over the next five years. Lu and his team will create powerful, implantable cardiac monitoring and modulation tools to chronically study heart failure development, progression, and termination in a way beyond any possibility supported by current technologies. They will require no labels and operate wirelessly, which is suitable for future non-toxic, safe use in human patients.

The goals of this project, “Soft wireless multimodal cardiac implantable devices for long-term investigating heart failure pathogenesis,” are as follows:

  1. Develop and validate advanced, soft, wireless, implantable, and label-free cardiac technologies via the heterogeneous integration of emerging electrical/optical materials, microfabrication, bioelectronics, and biosensors
  2. Apply the technology to chronically interface with the dynamic beating heart and quantify the individual roles of various cardiac physiological parameters and their interplay at high precision in heart failure

This project is in collaboration with researchers from Northwestern University in Illinois. Lu is the sole PI for this project. The grant they received from the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute afforded them $2.8M in funding for five years, $1.68M of which will go to GW. The Lu Lab at GW will lead the technology development and work with Northwestern co-investigators on heart failure studies. 

Together, the team has the complementary expertise and skills in materials, devices, and basic and clinical cardiac physiology required for this project. Their research outcome will advance implantable cardiac devices for versatile multiparametric mapping and modulation of the heart. 

“This R01 award is a significant achievement for my career. It will greatly enable my group to develop our advanced bio-integrated electronic/optoelectronic systems further, and more importantly, to design and explore new enabling cardiac technologies in the next five years to address demanding healthcare challenges and improve the lives of patients with heart failure,” Lu said.

The results will greatly facilitate future research into understanding the complex disease mechanisms involved in pathophysiological conditions leading to lethal heart failure and its therapeutic treatment. In the long term, it will also offer new approaches to studying the precise mechanisms and optimizing the diagnostic and therapeutic strategies of other life-threatening heart diseases beyond heart failure.