On January 17–18, a consortium of clinicians, biologists, electrical engineers, and material and computer scientists from Italy, Austria, Germany, the UK, and Switzerland met in Pisa to kick-off the newly approved European FET-PROACTIVE project “NeuHeart”. IT’IS is part of this exciting four-year endeavor, working together with project partners towards establishing and testing a novel electroceutical system for closed-loop regulation of heart activity in heart transplant patients. The main goal of the project is to restore the ability to adapt to the performance-related blood-flow demand of the organism, which is largely lost due to the denervation associated with the transplantation process. This denervation prevents transplant patients from being able to up- or down-regulate cardiac output in response to activity level (e.g., when running or climbing stairs, or during sleep). The vagus nerve is one of the key players in the regulation of heart rate and blood pressure. Within the NeuHeart project, a novel electroceutical implant that re-establishes vagal innervation of the heart and administers targeted neuromodulation to adapt the heart function based on information from novel implantable sensors about real-time cardiovascular performance and requirements will be developed.
IT’IS will develop coupled electromagnetic-electrophysiological-cardiovascular modeling and optimization techniques to guide the design of the electroceutical implant, to allow patient-specific identification of suitable and selective stimulation parameters, and for simulation-based adaptive control of the implanted neuromodulation device based on available feedback from the sensor. To this end, the computational life sciences platform Sim4Life, developed jointly by IT’IS and its Z43 partner ZMT Zurich MedTech AG, will be used. Sim4Life, which enables modeling of electromagnetic neuromodulation within detailed anatomical environments, will be combined with a novel model of cardio-vascular activity and regulation.
Within the NeuHeart project, a novel electroceutical system for closed-loop regulation of heart activity in heart transplant patients will be developed.
The kick-off meeting, which was hosted by the Scuola Superiore Sant’Anna and the Consiglio Nazionale delle Ricerche (CNR), was a great success and was widely met with enthusiasm. IT'IS discovered additional unexpected synergies, related, e.g., to the ongoing SPARC activities at IT’IS on modeling of heart physiology and the o2S2PARC platform for online modelling in bioelectric medicine, both of which directly benefit NeuHeart. The meeting culminated with a social dinner and a tour of the CNR facilities, which will be involved in the experimental demonstrations of the value of the NeuHeart system.
For more information, please contact Dr. Esra Neufeld.