A study published in the journal, PLOS ONE, states that scientists from the Moscow Institute of Physics and Technology (MIPT) have discovered a method to control the behaviour of heart muscle cells through laser radiation. The advance may help treat arrhythmia or irregular heartbeat.
"Right now, this result may be very useful for clinical studies of the mechanisms of the heart and in the future, we could potentially stop attacks of arrhythmia in patients at the touch of a button," said study co-author Konstantin Agladze from the MIPT. At present Agladze’s colleagues are researching on cardiac engineering wherein they succeeded in growing heart muscle tissue on a substrate of spider silk.
In order to fully understand the heart disorder, Agladze’s team created ‘arrhythmia in vitro’ using azoTAB (azobenzene trimethylammonium bromide) whose molecules consists of two benzene rings connected by a bridge of two nitrogen atoms. When the molecule is irradiated with UV light, the benzene rings change position relative to one another i.e. they fold and under the influence of visible light return to their original configuration. The azoTAB molecule can thus exist in two states i.e. with and without radiation. Agladze and his colleagues taught azoTAB molecules to control cardiomyocytes so that one configuration did not prevent voluntary contractions (passive) and the other (active) deactivated contractions. Scientists thus moved a step ahead from growing muscle tissue to finding ways of controlling it.