May 7, 2009

NASA invention aids cardiac patients

A U.S. space agency invention -- an advanced, flexible and temperature-resistant resin -- is now part of an implantable device for heart-failure patients.

Created at the National Aeronautics and Space Administration's Langley Research Center in Hampton, Va., the resin -- Langley Research Center's Soluble Imide -- is described by NASA as a super plastic that's biologically inert, making it suitable for medical uses.

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 senior researcher and inventor of the material.

NASA licensed the patented technology to Medtronic Inc., a Minneapolis-based medical technology company that incorporated the material into its Attain Ability left-heart lead, which the U.S. Food and Drug Administration recently approved.

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.