Nanotechnology could spur new heart treatment for arrhythmia

A new nanoparticle developed by University of Michigan researchers could be the key to a targeted therapy for cardiac arrhythmia, a condition that causes the heart to beat erratically and can lead to heart attack and stroke.

Advances over the past 20 years have made cardiac ablation successful and safe for stopping abnormal heartbeats, called arrhythmias, but it remains highly complex.

In studies conducted on rodents and sheep, the UM team found that the treatment successfully kills the cells that cause cardiac arrhythmia while leaving surrounding cells unharmed.

Cardiac arrhythmia is caused by malfunctions in a certain type of heart muscle cell, which normally helps regulate the heartbeat. Today, the disease is usually treated with drugs, which can have serious side effects. It can also be treated with a procedure called cardiac ablation that burns away the malfunctioning cells using a highpowered laser that