Unravelling the mysteries of the human heart

The human heart is driven by a natural pacemaker, the sinoatrial node. This node is a cluster of cells in the heart; it generates electrical impulses that cause the heart to contract and pump blood to the rest of the body. “Although it plays a very important role, many of the fundamental questions surrounding it remain unanswered. It remains a mystery how such a small pacemaker can drive the whole heart,” says MedTech CoRE Flagship 2 Associate Investigator, Dr Jichao Zhao. “More importantly, we do not have a clear understanding of the kind of changes that the node undergoes during diseased conditions, such as heart failure and atrial fibrillation which lead to its dysfunction. Yet, this knowledge is crucial for developing more effective clinical treatment for patients with such conditions,” he explains. Dr Zhao and his collaborators at Ohio State University in the United States were recently awarded a grant worth 3 million USD by the National Institute of Health to study the function of the sinoatrial node using explanted human hearts. Read more about the study here.



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