Post brain surgery or cranial injury patients require close monitoring of intracranial pressure (ICP) and swelling in the brain. Conventional implants are used to monitor patients’ status, but carry their own risks. Permanent neuronal sensors can facilitate the growth of biofilms, trigger allergic reactions, and potentially exacerbate the existing swelling in the brain. However, a team headed by Dr. John Rogers from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign has developed a new class of bioabsorbable neuronal implants that can measure temperature and pressure in the brain.
These microimplants use a classic biodegradable polymer, polylactic-co-glycolic acid, as the base for their device. This membrane is bonded to etched nanoporous foil that responds to pressure changes in the brain. The sensor’s structure maintains functionality for a few weeks, long enough to monitor the vital health parameters after a brain injury or surgery, harmlessly dissolving completely to be excreted by the body.
The Nature article published on January 18th, describes two versions of the device, one with soluble wires to transmit the data, and the second attached to a wireless transmitter the size of a postage stamp, implanted underneath the skin. Rogers and his team hope to adapt the technology to a wide range of uses and areas of application, modifying it to monitor vitals like fluid flow, motion, and pH in different organs. Hoping to move forward to human trials in the near future, Rogers and his team will continue refining the technology, increasing the duration of stability of the silicone based device, and creating new uses for this versatile technology.
Study in Nature: Bioresorbable silicon electronic sensors for the brain…