While we already know how to stimulate the brain and spinal cord to treat various neurological conditions, implants that actually work over long periods without damaging nearby tissue have been notoriously difficult to produce. Now scientists from Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL) and the Swiss National Centre of Competence in Research (NCCR) Robotics have reported in journal Science on a new ultraflexible neural implant that can perform both electrical and chemical stimulation of neurons in dynamic environments.
The e-Dura device has multiple electronic tracks made out of cracked gold that can stretch and flex, and a microfluidic channel through which medications can be administered. The electrodes at the tips of the gold tracks are also flexible and are made of silicon/platinum microbeads. The researchers tested the new implants in the laboratory, demonstrating that they withstand millions of stretches, as well as being able to send electrical pulses and deliver chemical injections while under stress. Moreover, the prototypes were implanted into mice with spinal cord injuries and were able to work effectively in restoring the animals’ ability to walk, performing extremely well for weeks at a time. This technology certainly brings new hope to those paralyzed due to spinal cord damage and to many others for whom practical neural implants would be a godsend.
Study in journal Science: Electronic dura mater for long-term multimodal neural interfaces…
(hat tip: Robohub)