Connect with us


New leadless pacemaker could be available to all heart patients this year



Every year more than one million people receive a pacemaker.

Until now, leadless versions were only available for 20% of these patients. However, thanks to an international consortium led by Amsterdam UMC and funded by Abbott Medical, an improved version could later this year be available for all patients.

Research from Amsterdam UMC published in New England Journal of Medicine has succeeded in further revolutionising the wireless pacemaker.

The improved dual-chamber version which is smaller than a AAA battery, can now be placed in both the atrium and the ventricle of the heart via a minimally invasive procedure – meaning a larger group of patients can be fitted with a wireless pacemaker.

A decade ago, Amsterdam UMC laid the foundations for the development of the wireless pacemaker.

At the time it was a huge innovation on the traditional pacemaker, that sits above the skin and reaches the heart muscle with a wire.

However, until now, a wireless pacemaker could only be placed in one cavity of the heart: the ventricle. This meant it was only suitable for a small proportion of patients with a slow heart rhythm.

Now, this latest clinical trial – known as the AVEIR dual-chamber (DR) i2i Investigational Device Exemption (IDE) study – has shown that a device can also be implanted in the atrium of the heart.

The AVEIR-DR has been designed by Abbott with a first-of-its-kind i2i (implant-to-implant) technology with the goal of providing beat-to-beat communication and synchrony between two leadless pacemakers. Unlike other leadless pacemakers, this system allows the two devices to communicate with each other, sensing for delayed or missed heartbeat and then pacing the appropriate chamber of the heart.

In addition, Abbott’s AVEIR leadless devices utilise specially designed attachment mechanisms that allow for retrieval of the pacemakers when changes in therapy are needed.

In the AVEIR DR i2i IDE study, physicians successfully implanted leadless pacemakers in the right atrium along with one inserted in the right ventricle for the first time.

Lead researcher Reinoud Knops, professor of electrophysiology at Amsterdam UMC, said: “Most patients need a pacemaker that works in both the atrium and the ventricle for optimal contraction of the heart. Before now, that wasn’t possible as it is very complicated to place two mini pacemakers that can communicate with each other wirelessly.

“After thorough research and testing, we managed to make it possible. This means that those who need a pacemaker will soon be able to count on a new treatment.”

The new pacemakers communicate with each other via electrical pulses and were implanted for the first time in 300 people who were then followed for a minimum of three months. The results of this study showed that the treatment is safe, and that the system works well.

Pacemakers have been a basic treatment for patients with a slow heart rhythm for many years.

Traditional pacemakers consist of a subcutaneous box under the collarbone with a wire connected to the heart by a vein.

But these cables are fragile and can break, become detached from the heart, or become infected. This can lead to patients having to go back to the hospital for another operation.

For this reason, Amsterdam UMC developed its mini pacemaker without a box or wiring ten years ago, which is the size of a vitamin.

Abbott Medical has announced data from the clinical trial at the same time as Amsterdam UMC and presented its findings at the Heart Rhythm Society’s 44th annual meeting held in New Orleans.

The Chicago-headquartered multinational has also now provided data from the trial to the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) as part of its submission for approval of the AVEIR device. It is hoped it will get the nod in the US in the third quarter of 2023 and in Europe in 2024.


Tai chi outperforms conventional exercise for seniors



New findings from 12 studies involving 2,901 participants have demonstrated that tai chi outperforms conventional exercise in improving mobility and balance in seniors.

While tai chi is understood to be beneficial for functional mobility and balance in older adults, such benefits are not well understood due to large variance in research study protocols and observations.

This new review and analysis has now shown that tai chi can induce greater improvement in functional mobility and balance in relatively healthy older adults compared to conventional exercise.

The findings showed the following performance results:

  • The time to complete 50-foot walking was 1.84 seconds faster. 
  • The time to maintain a one-leg stance was 6 seconds longer when eyes were open and 1.65 seconds longer when eyes were closed. 
  • Individuals improved their timed-up-and-go test performance by 0.18 points, indicating quicker standing, walking, and sitting.
  • Individuals taking the functional reach test showed significant improvement with a standardised mean difference of 0.7, suggesting a noteworthy positive impact on the ability to reach and perform daily activities.

Secondary analyses revealed that the use of tai chi with relatively short duration of less than 20 weeks, low total time of less than 24 total hours, and/or focusing on the Yang-style of this ancient form of Chinese martial arts were particularly beneficial for functional mobility and balance as compared to conventional exercise.

“This systematic literature review and meta-analysis are exciting because they provide strong evidence that tai chi is a more efficient strategy to improve functional mobility and balance in relatively healthy older adults, as compared to conventional exercise,” said Brad Manor, Ph.D., director of the Mobility and Falls Program at Hebrew SeniorLife’s Hinda and Arthur Marcus Institute for Aging Research, and associate professor of medicine, Harvard Medical School and Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center.

“This research suggests that tai chi should be carefully considered in future studies and routines of rehabilitative programs for balance and mobility in older adults,” said Bao Dapeng, professor at Beijing Sport University.

Continue Reading


New standards for biomarkers of ageing



A paper has put forward a new framework for standardising the development and validation of biomarkers of ageing to better predict longevity and quality of life.

Led by Harvard researchers, the team has zeroed in on biomarkers of ageing using omic data from population-based studies. 

The team included ageing and longevity expert Alex Zhavoronkov, PhD, founder and CEO of AI-driven drug discovery company Insilico Medicine, and the findings appeared in Nature Medicine

Ageing is associated with a number of biological changes including increased molecular and cellular damage, however, researchers do not yet have a standardised means to evaluate and validate biomarkers related to ageing. 

In order to create those standards as well as actionable clinical tools, the team analysed population-based cohort studies built on omic data (data related to biological molecules which can include proteomics, transcriptomics, genomics, and epigenomics) of blood-based biomarkers of ageing. The researchers then compared the predictive strength of different biomarkers, including study design and data collection approaches, and looked at how these biomarkers presented in different populations. 

In order to better assess the impact of ageing using biomarkers, the researchers found that clinicians needed to expand their focus to consider not only mortality as an outcome, but also how biomarkers of aging are associated with numerous other health outcomes, including functional decline, frailty, chronic disease, and disability. They also call for the standardisation of omic data to improve reliability. 

“Omics and biomarkers harmonisation efforts, such as the Biolearn project, are instrumental in validation of biomarkers of aging” said co-first author Mahdi Moqri, PhD, of the Division of Genetics. 

Biolearn is an open-source project for biomarkers of aging and is helping to harmonise existing ageing biomarkers, unify public datasets, and provide computational methodologies.

The team also emphasised the importance of continued collaborations among research groups on “large-scale, longitudinal studies that can track long-term physiological changes and responses to therapeutics in diverse populations”, and that further work is required to understand how implementation of biomarker evaluation in clinical trials might improve patient quality of life and survival.

“If we hope to have clinical trials for interventions that extend healthy lifespan in humans, we need reliable, validated biomarkers of ageing,” said co-first author Jesse Poganik, PhD, of the Division of Genetics. 

“We hope that our framework will help prioritise the most promising biomarkers and provide health care providers with clinically valuable and actionable tools.”

Continue Reading


Healthy aging research to receive $115 million



Global non-profit Hevolution Foundation has announced $115 million in funding that makes up 49 new awards under its Geroscience Research Opportunities (HF-GRO) programme.  

As part of Hevolution’s mission to catalyse the healthspan scientific ecosystem and drive transformative breakthroughs in healthy aging, HF-GRO is funding promising pre-clinical research in aging biology and geroscience. 

Through this first wave of HF-GRO awards, Hevolution will invest up to $115 million in this first cohort of 49 selected projects over the next five years. Its second call for proposals under HF-GRO will be announced later this year, offering an additional $115 million to address the significant funding gaps in aging research.  

Dr. Felipe Sierra, Hevolution’s Chief Scientific Officer stated: “These 49 important research projects represent a significant step forward in deepening our understanding of healthy aging. Hevolution’s prime objective is to mobilise greater investment around uncovering the foundational mechanisms behind biological aging. 

“We are steadfast in our belief that by examining the root causes of aging, rather than solely focusing on its associated diseases, we can usher in a brighter future for humanity.” 

HF-GRO awardees include researchers at prestigious institutions across the United States, Canada, and Europe, including the U.S. National Institute on Aging, Brigham and Women’s Hospital, the Buck Institute, the Mayo Clinic, New York University, and the University of California San Francisco, among many others. 

The American Federation for Aging Research is providing programmatic support for the HF-GRO program, with grantees selected through a rigorous two-stage peer-review process involving 100 experts in aging biology and geroscience. 

Dr Berenice Benayoun, an HF-GRO grant recipient at the University of Southern California, stated: “I am extremely honored and excited that Hevolution selected our project for funding. This is a project close to my heart, which aims at understanding why and how the female and male innate immune aging differs. 

“This funding will support us as we start laying the foundation for a lasting improvement of women’s health throughout aging.” 

To date, Hevolution has committed approximately $250 million to transform the healthy aging sector, including the $40 million for specialised research and development in healthspan science recently announced at Hevolution’s Global Healthspan Summit. 

Hevolution is ramping up its investments to enable healthier aging for all and is now the second largest funder of aging biology research worldwide.  

Continue Reading