Nav: Home

Ion treatments for cardiac arrhythmia

January 24, 2017

Approximately 350,000 patients in Germany suffer from various forms of cardiac arrhythmia. The condition can lead to permanent damage as a result of stroke, or it may cause sudden heart failure. In forms of arrhythmia like atrial fibrillation or ventricular tachycardia, the heart departs from the regular rhythm set by a natural pacemaker, the sinoatrial node. This type of arrhythmia is often treated with drugs or with a "catheter ablation," in which catheters are guided through blood vessels to the heart, and certain tissue there is selectively destroyed. Based on this principle, ions from the particle accelerator could one day be used to perform a treatment without catheters. Scientists have been able to show that high-energy carbon ions can be used in a non-invasive procedure to make specific changes to cardiac tissue that prevent the transmission of the electrical signal.

This procedure using carbon ions has now been studied for the first time in a feasibility study by scientists at the GSI Helmholtz Center for Heavy Ion Research in Darmstadt in collaboration with physicians and scientists of the Mayo Clinic (Minnesota, U.S.), the Helmholtzzentrum Dresden-Rossendorf, Heidelberg University, the Friedrich Alexander University Erlangen-Nuremberg (FAU), the Heidelberg Ion-Beam Therapy Center and the University of Trento (Italy). The researchers have published their results in the journal Scientific Reports from the publishers of Nature.

After prior tests on cardiac cell cultures and beating heart preparations yielded promising results, the scientists developed an animal study. "The new method is a big step into the future, because for the first time, it allows us to perform this treatment with pinpoint accuracy but without any catheters at all," says Dr. H. Immo Lehmann, a physician and scientist at the Mayo Clinic and one of the authors of the study. "The study showed that the method can be successfully used to change cardiac tissue in such a way as to permanently interrupt the propagation of disruptive impulses. Further detailed studies are needed, however, before the method can start to benefit patients," says Dr. Christian Graeff, head of the Medical Physics research group at GSI.

The irradiation of tissue with carbon ions promises to be gentler and potentially also more effective than treatment with catheters. When the method is technically mature, the procedure will take only a few minutes, in contrast to the sometimes hours-long catheter operations. One crucial advantage is that the ions can penetrate to any desired depth. By contrast, since the left ventricular wall of the heart is especially thick, it is often not possible to effectively destroy tissue there with catheters, although this is precisely the spot at which patients suffering from severe forms of ventricular tachycardia must be treated.

"It is exciting that the carbon beam could work with surgical precision in particularly sensitive areas of the body," says Paolo Giubellino, Scientific Managing Director of FAIR and GSI. "The wealth of experience regarding medical applications of ion beams here at GSI is the basis of this new, promising method of treatment. The knowledge regarding the biological effectiveness of carbon ions and the technological know-how for irradiating patients are indispensable for developing an idea like this to the point where it's mature enough for a medical application. We're proud that the first steps toward a new therapy have now been taken."

In their study, the scientists were able to rely on many technologies originally developed for cancer treatment with scanned ions, which was carried out at GSI for the first time in 1997. This form of treatment has now become well established and has been used in thousands of patients worldwide. Further experiments are currently being planned so that the method can be put into practice at facilities such as the Heidelberg Ion-Beam Therapy Center.
-end-


Helmholtz Association

Related Mayo Clinic Articles:

Mayo Clinic-led study links obesity with pancreatitis
A study by researchers at Mayo Clinic in Arizona published in the The Journal of Clinical Investigation has found that obesity is not only implicated in chronic diseases such as diabetes, but also in sudden-onset diseases such as pancreatitis.
Mayo Clinic researchers clarify how cells defend themselves from viruses
A protein known to help cells defend against infection also regulates the form and function of mitochondria, according to a new paper in Nature Communications.
Mayo Clinic study looks at changes in outcomes for coronary revascularization
The most common type of heart disease -- coronary artery disease -- affects 6.7% of adults and accounts for 20% of 2 in 10 deaths of adults under age 65.
Mayo Clinic researchers review modern cases of leprosy
Leprosy has a history that has spanned centuries and societies across the globe.
Kidney stones on the rise, Mayo Clinic study finds
Kidney stones are a painful health condition, often requiring multiple procedures at great discomfort to the patient.
Mayo Clinic researchers demonstrate value of second opinions
Many patients come to Mayo Clinic for a second opinion or diagnosis confirmation before treatment for a complex condition.
Mayo Clinic researchers clarify chemo resistance, and perhaps a new therapy
Mayo Clinic scientists have identified a specific protein implicated in drug resistance, as well as a possible therapeutic tool.
Mayo Clinic researchers identify therapy
Mayo Clinic researchers have found that an experimental drug, LCL161, stimulates the immune system, leading to tumor shrinkage in patients affected by multiple myeloma.
Mayo Clinic researchers uncover new agents
Mayo Clinic researchers have uncovered three new agents to add to the emerging repertoire of drugs that aim to delay the onset of aging by targeting senescent cells -- cells that contribute to frailty and other age-related conditions.
Mayo Clinic: Reversing physician burnout, using nine strategies to promote well-being
Researchers at Mayo Clinic have been documenting the rise and costs of physician burnout for more than a decade.
More Mayo Clinic News and Mayo Clinic Current Events

Trending Science News

Current Coronavirus (COVID-19) News

Top Science Podcasts

We have hand picked the top science podcasts of 2020.
Now Playing: TED Radio Hour

Climate Mindset
In the past few months, human beings have come together to fight a global threat. This hour, TED speakers explore how our response can be the catalyst to fight another global crisis: climate change. Guests include political strategist Tom Rivett-Carnac, diplomat Christiana Figueres, climate justice activist Xiye Bastida, and writer, illustrator, and artist Oliver Jeffers.
Now Playing: Science for the People

#562 Superbug to Bedside
By now we're all good and scared about antibiotic resistance, one of the many things coming to get us all. But there's good news, sort of. News antibiotics are coming out! How do they get tested? What does that kind of a trial look like and how does it happen? Host Bethany Brookeshire talks with Matt McCarthy, author of "Superbugs: The Race to Stop an Epidemic", about the ins and outs of testing a new antibiotic in the hospital.
Now Playing: Radiolab

Speedy Beet
There are few musical moments more well-worn than the first four notes of Beethoven's Fifth Symphony. But in this short, we find out that Beethoven might have made a last-ditch effort to keep his music from ever feeling familiar, to keep pushing his listeners to a kind of psychological limit. Big thanks to our Brooklyn Philharmonic musicians: Deborah Buck and Suzy Perelman on violin, Arash Amini on cello, and Ah Ling Neu on viola. And check out The First Four Notes, Matthew Guerrieri's book on Beethoven's Fifth. Support Radiolab today at Radiolab.org/donate.