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

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.
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Coordinator

SCUOLA SUPERIORE DI STUDI UNIVERSITARI E DI PERFEZIONAMENTO S ANNA

Address

Piazza Martiri Della Liberta 33
56127 Pisa

Italy

Activity type

Higher or Secondary Education Establishments

EU Contribution

€ 1 528 250

Participants (5)

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UNIVERSITY COLLEGE LONDON

United Kingdom

EU Contribution

€ 1 036 287,50

MEDIZINISCHE UNIVERSITAET WIEN

Austria

EU Contribution

€ 695 977,50

FORSCHUNGSSTIFTUNG FUR INFORMATIONSTECHNOLOGIE UND GESELLSCHAFT

Switzerland

EU Contribution

€ 724 705

FRAUNHOFER GESELLSCHAFT ZUR FOERDERUNG DER ANGEWANDTEN FORSCHUNG E.V.

Germany

EU Contribution

€ 600 745

SENSARS NEUROPROSTHETICS SARL

Switzerland

EU Contribution

€ 397 500

Project information

Grant agreement ID: 824071

Status

Ongoing project

  • Start date

    1 January 2019

  • End date

    31 December 2022

Funded under:

H2020-EU.1.2.2.

  • Overall budget:

    € 4 983 465

  • EU contribution

    € 4 983 465

Coordinated by:

SCUOLA SUPERIORE DI STUDI UNIVERSITARI E DI PERFEZIONAMENTO S ANNA

Italy