A NASA technology that was developed for an aerospace high-speed research program is now part of an implantable device for heart failure patients. NASA's Langley Research Center in Hampton, Va., created an advanced aerospace resin, named Langley Research Center's Soluble Imide, or LaRC-SI. NASA describes the material as highly flexible, resistant to chemicals, and able to withstand extreme hot and cold temperatures. "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, in a NASA news release. In July 2004, NASA licensed the patented insulation technology to Medtronic Inc., which used the material in its Attain Ability left-heart lead, which the U.S. Food and Drug Administration recently approved. The Minneapolis Star Tribune describes the lead in this story, posted today:
Medtronic Inc., the Fridley[, Minn.]-based medical device maker, claims that its Attain Ability heart lead wire represents the first time a NASA-developed material has been used in an implantable medical device. The company said Wednesday that the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved the lead, a wire that connects a cardiac resynchronization device (CRT) implanted in the chest to the left ventricle of the heart. CRT devices emit electrical impulses to resynchronize heartbeats in patients suffering from heart failure, a chronic condition that afflicts about 5 million Americans. Historically, it has been difficult for doctors to snake the leads, or wires, to the correct spot in the heart targeted for stimulation. The "super plastic" insulation on the lead, as well as its thin design, make this process easier, said Lonny Stormo, vice president of therapy development for Medtronic's Cardiac Rhythm Disease Management division. FDA approval was bolstered by a 190-patient clinical trial to prove the device's safety and effectiveness.So now we can count LaRC-SI as the latest in a long line of medical applications that have benefited from NASA technology. For more on the resin, check NASA Langley's Advanced Materials Web site.