10 May : "Super plastic", developed by the American space agency for aerospace high-speed research programme, is now being used as a part of implantable devices for patients suffering from heart failure.The space agency NASA Langley Research Center in Hampton created an advanced aerospace resin, named Langley Research Center’s Soluble Imide, or LaRC-SI.
It is highly flexible, resistant to chemicals, and withstands extreme hot and cold temperatures, the agency said.
The "super plastic" was determined to be biologically inert, making it suitable for medical use, including implantable devices.
"One of the advantages of this material is that it lends itself to a variety of diverse applications, from mechanical parts and composites to electrical insulation and adhesive bonding," said Rob Bryant, a NASA Langley senior researcher and inventor of the material.
The use of this NASA-developed material in a medical implant is the latest in a long line of medical applications that have benefited from NASA technology, the agency said.
"Langley Research Center’s Soluble Imide is an excellent example of how taxpayer investment in NASA materials research has resulted in a direct benefit beyond the aerospace sector by extending the quality of life through medical technology," Bryant said.
Heart failure occurs when the heart muscle is unable to pump effectively to meet the body’s need for blood and oxygen.
It is a chronic and progressive condition that affects more than five million Americans and more than 22 million individuals worldwide.
Cardiac resynchronisation therapy, or CRT, is designed to coordinate the contraction of the heart’s two lower chambers and improve the heart’s efficiency to increase blood flow to the body.
Placing a lead in the heart is widely recognised by physicians as the most challenging aspect of implanting CRT devices.
The narrow design allows physicians to choose between different sites on the heart to deliver optimal therapy, NASA said.
The lead is delivered by an inner catheter, a feature that helps physicians place the lead directly in difficult-to-reach areas of the heart.
Clinical studies in the U.S. and Canada showed physicians were successful in placing the Attain Ability lead 96.4 per cent of the time, NASA said.