Researchers at the Perelman School of Medicine at University of Pennsylvania and University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have reported in journal Nature Materials on a new type of intracranial electrodes that are able to dissolve and wash out of the body once done doing their job. The technology could one day be used for both diagnostic and therapeutic applications. Currently electrodes tend to suffer from becoming less and less effective as the fibrous tissue around creates impedance to the device. Perhaps dissolvable electrodes may lessen that burden by not requiring explantation.
The silicone/molybdenum electronic devices build upon groundbreaking work of John A. Rogers of U of I Urbana-Champaign in flexible electronics. The thickness of the final product determines the time it takes for them to dissolve and so they can be prepared for specific clinical applications.
The researchers already tested the electrodes on animals and intact tissue. Here are some details according to UPenn:
For example, the team used the device to record brain waves in rats under anesthesia, as well as voltage fluctuations between neurons (EEGs), and induced epileptic spikes in intact live tissue. A separate experiment demonstrated a complex, multiplexed array made from these materials that could map rat-whisker sensing capabilities at high resolution.
These electrophysiological signals were recorded from devices placed at the surface of the brain cortex (the outer layer of tissue) and the inner space between the scalp and skull. Chronic measurements were made over a 30-day period, while acute experiments demonstrated device operations over three to four hours.
Comparative studies showed that the new sensor performed as well or better relative to conventional electrodes used in the clinic, with regard to tissue reactivity as measured by tissue pathology, as well as cellular and immune staining after the studies’ end.
The team next plans to develop more complex devices that include flow, pressure, and other measurement capabilities, in addition to electrical recording, and test them in animal models of disease, before moving into human testing.
Source: Penn Medicine…