DEPARTMENT OF CARDIOVASCULAR MEDICINE KYUSHU UNIVERSITY GRADUATE SCHOOL OF MEDICAL SCIENCES

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Research Units

Bionic Medicine Research Unit

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Research Outline


Bionic Medicine

With the remarkable advances in medical science of recent years, numerous diseases that were once considered incurable can now be treated and many lives are saved. These medical advances are supported by two factors. One is molecular biology backed up by gene-related science. Through the progress in molecular biology, the genes responsible for specific diseases are identified, and this genetic information has made the development of molecule targeted therapies possible.

バイオニック=医学×生命科学×工学

The other factor is the so-called high-tech symbolized by the computer or information technology (IT). The initial development was limited to very simple medical technologies such as radiography and electrocardiography. Thereafter, the progress has been so remarkable that contemporary medicine would be unimaginable without the existence of these medical devices. However, while the application of medical devices in diagnostic use has reached extremely high standards, their application stops short of therapeutic use. Recent years, the increasing sophistication and nanomization of hardware, epitomized by the microprocessor, and the development of theories concerning information and signal processing have opened the possibility of applying these high technologies to the treatment of intractable diseases. “Bio-” stands for biological systems that include life and genes, and “-nics” signifies high technology including electronics, engineering and IT. By integrating life science and advanced engineering, bionic medicine is a completely novel medical system with the goal to treat diseases that are considered intractable by the conventional medical care.

Basic Concepts of Bionic Medicine

The body is composed of many functional units. To maintain life, these functional units should operate with mutual coherence. To this end, the body possesses highly developed control mechanisms to integrate these functional units. In bionic medicine, by functionally integrating these highly developed biological control systems with therapeutic devices, we aim to reconstruct bodily functions that have failed or out of control because of diseases.

As is commonly known, most of the drugs used for treating cardiovascular diseases act on the regulatory system of circulation. Some examples are beta blockers, angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitors and angiotensin receptor blockers. The fact that these drugs are effective against a spectrum of cardiovascular diseases, from heart failure to hypertension, provides some evidence of an association between a failed regulatory system and the fundamental pathophysiology of cardiovascular diseases. Therefore if we succeed to build devices capable of exchanging information with the brain stem which is the center of cardiovascular regulation, and devices capable of replacing the brain stem functions when the native functions have failed, then we may open the possibility of treating many cardiovascular diseases with sophisticated devices.

In bionic cardiology, detailed monitoring of the cardiovascular system is necessary. By using appropriate models, diagnosis of the pathology from limited clinical information becomes possible. As a result, a treatment strategy can be formulated rationally. Therefore, biological monitoring is a very important element of research and development in the field of bionic medicine. With the above background, we have continued to develop bionic cardiology for the treatment of intractable cardiovascular diseases through direct intervention of the cardiovascular regulatory system by biomedical engineering technology.


Main Areas of Bionic Cardiology

Currently we are engaged in three main areas of research and development.

  1. Transneural treatment of cardiovascular disease
  2. Elaborate numerical models of biological systems: digital medicine
  3. Ultimate medicine: automated diagnosis and treatment

 

Our research has demonstrated dramatic therapeutic potentials of bionic cardiology in all the above areas. These achievements were acknowledged internationally, and the prestigious Paul Dudley Award was received from the American Heart Association (AHA) in 2000.
Paul Dudley White Award2000

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