Cardiac arrhythmias, a group of conditions in which the heartbeat is abnormal, are among the most recurrent cardiovascular diseases with an important impact in the quality of life of patients (atrial fibrillation is predicted to affect 17.9 million patients in Europe by 2060). When drug therapy fails in the correct management of these diseases, ablation, the selective damage of small regions of the cardiac tissue, is used instead. Current ablation techniques use thermal energy to destroy the target areas with success rates up to 70 %. However, there are complications, such as severe oesophageal or phrenic nerve injury or vascular stenosis, that current thermal treatments cannot overcome.
Our research is focused on the development of new technological tools and methods for the non-thermal ablation of cardiac arrhythmias. In particular, the explored technique is irreversible electroporation (IRE), which consists in the application of short and high intensity electric field pulses to kill the cells of the target tissue region. Our research projects develop the necessary technologies (electronics, application catheters and numerical models) as well as the necessary theoretical framework to consolidate the clinical use of this novel technique. Our research domain is extremely timely because IRE is an emerging technique in the field of cardiac ablation with very promising expectations of becoming the leading technique in the near future. Our goal is to apply biomedical engineering concepts to overcome the limitations identified at the current stage of development of the technique IRE. The developments resulting from our results will help in IRE being definitively established in the routine clinical practice for cardiac ablation. Our research involves a multidisciplinary approach in the frontier between electronics and biology to give answer to one of the main challenges of today’s society: improving Health and Wellbeing of people.
The emerging use of IRE in cardiology has brought the first promising results and has recently attracted the interest of many researchers, clinicians and medtech companies. Successful accomplishment of our research goals will represent a significant contribution in the establishment of irreversible electroporation as an ablation technique in the cardiology. Given the high incidence of cardiac arrhythmias, it is clear that the accomplishment of successful results will have a notorious positive impact in the society.
Furthermore, from an economical point of view, the development of a novel and safer cardiac ablation technology represents a very attractive asset medtech companies, which could lead to future collaborations and investments. Finally, the multidisciplinary nature of our research line has led to the consolidation of a network of collaborators, both national and international, what will open the possibility for future joint projects. Our research has recently obtained funding from the Spanish Ministry of Science, Innovation and Universities and the Spanish Research Agency (project PID2019-110120RB-I00/AEI/10.13039/501100011033). Also, this research line is supported by the Instituto de Salud Carlos III (ISCIII) (project DTS2000111) and by the European Commission Marie-Curie individual fellowships program. Of special interested are our current collaborations with relevant international cardiologists and start-ups interested in developing technology in this field.