Cardiac arrhythmias, a group of conditions in which the heartbeat is abnormal, are among the most recurrent cardiovascular diseases with an important impact in the quality of life of patients (atrial fibrillation is predicted to affect 17.9 million patients in Europe by 2060). When drug therapy fails in the correct management of these diseases, ablation, the selective damage of small regions of the cardiac tissue, is used instead. Current ablation techniques use thermal energy to destroy the target areas with success rates up to 70 %. However, there are complications, such as severe oesophageal or phrenic nerve injury or vascular stenosis, that current thermal treatments cannot overcome.
The TACAIRE proposal is focused on the development of new technological tools and methods for the non-thermal ablation of cardiac arrhythmias. In particular, the explored technique will be Irreversible Electroporation (IRE), which consists in the application of short and high intensity electric field pulses to kill the cells of the target tissue region. The present action will develop the necessary technologies (electronics, application catheters and numerical models) to study in silico, in vitro and in vivo the potential clinical use of novel electric field waveforms and applicators for cardiac IRE. The present proposal is extremely timely because IRE is an emerging technique in the field of cardiac ablation with very promising expectations of becoming the leading technique in the near future. The goal of TACAIRE is to overcome some identified limitations of IRE that could prevent this technique from being definitively established in the routine clinical practice for cardiac ablation.
The project involves a host team of biomedical/electronic engineers and a secondment partner of cardiologists. This structure is aligned with the multidisciplinary nature of the proposal and ensures all the necessary resources to correctly develop the action and the career prospects of the fellow.
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