Skip to main content
European Commission logo print header

A neuroprosthesis to restore the vagal-cardiac closed-loop connection after heart transplantation

Project description

Neuroprosthetic restoration of neural control in the transplanted heart

Heart transplantation (HT) is the last resort for patients with end-stage heart failure. However, while it increases life expectancy, the quality of life of HT recipients is still limited. Late complications occur mainly due to chronotropic incompetence associated with cardiac denervation. Orthotopic heart transplantation (OHT), the most common technique used, involves the complete surgical denervation of the heart, leading to significant modulation of the rate- and load-contractility relationship of the donor's heart. The EU-funded NeuHeart project aims to develop a bioelectronic solution based on integrated cardiac smart neuroprosthesis. This approach will be tested in a preclinical model of OHT to demonstrate the feasibility of re-establishing vagal control in a denervated heart by re-enabling the heart–vagus nerve closed-loop connection.

Objective

With 3500 annual surgeries worldwide, heart transplantation is the last resort for an increasing number of patients affected by end-stage heart failure (HF). Heart transplant (HTx) can significantly increase life expectancy of HF patients but unfortunately exercise capacity and health-related quality of life of HTx recipients are still limited, due to the increased frequency of late complications mainly owing to chronotropic incompetence because of cardiac denervation. Orthotopic heart transplantation (OHT) is the most common approach of HTx, involving the complete explantation of the native heart, making surgical denervation inevitable. Therefore, the modulation of rate- and load-contractility relationship of the donor heart is significantly altered after transplantation even if using different surgical techniques.
Addressing this fundamental clinical problem is the main goal of NeuHeart, that will be furthered by specifically investigating the physiology of denervated heart which will facilitate the development of a bioelectronic solution based on the closed-loop neuromodulation of the vagus nerve (VN), using a regenerative neural interface (for VN stimulation) and implanted artificial sensors (to record sensory information and close the loop). This cardiac smart neuroprosthesis will be tested in a swine model of OHT to demonstrate the feasibility of artificially re-establising vagal control in a denervated heart, by re-enabling the cardiac-vagal connection: the overall research output of the project will deliver multiple impacts, remarkably contributing to heart transplant science (fundamental research), help in the constitution of a new treatment paradigm for heart failure (clinics and society), and reach into the emerging industry of bioelectronic medicine (technology market), guaranteeing Europe a position of ‘first mover’ into this field.

Call for proposal

H2020-FETPROACT-2018-2020

See other projects for this call

Sub call

H2020-FETPROACT-2018-01

æ

Coordinator

SCUOLA SUPERIORE DI STUDI UNIVERSITARI E DI PERFEZIONAMENTO S ANNA
Net EU contribution
€ 1 528 250,00
Address
Piazza martiri della liberta 33
56127 Pisa
Italy

See on map

Region
Centro (IT) Toscana Pisa
Activity type
Higher or Secondary Education Establishments
Links
Other funding
€ 0,00

Participants (5)