Synchron, a spin-off from the University of Melbourne in Australia, has announced the first successful implantation of the Stentrode minimally invasive neural interface device in a person. The device is part of the Synchron brain-computer interface and combines the minimally invasive delivery of a vascular stent with the functionality of a neural implant. The company hopes that the device could unlock a range of capabilities, including giving paralyzed patients the ability to control assistive technologies such as wheelchairs or robotic arms.
At present, brain-computer interfaces are largely in their infancy, and face many hurdles. For instance, many of these technologies require a portion of the skull to be removed, in order to implant a device that can allow the brain to effectively communicate with a computer. In an effort to develop a less invasive alternative, Synchron has created the Stentrode, which can be minimally invasively advanced into a blood vessel in the brain, much like a conventional vascular stent.
The device can record and stream brain activity wirelessly, and a software platform called brainOS can translate these data to a standardized digital language that is used by apps for communication and control of external devices, such as robotic assistive devices.
A second component of the system is the brainPort, a wireless device implanted in the chest that aids in transmitting high-resolution neural data. So far, the system has been extensively tested in vivo, and the company has now conducted a clinical feasibility trial in Melbourne, Australia.
The trial is designed to evaluate the safety of the system and the quality of the signals emitted by the device, and includes patients with impaired motor function brought on by a whole range of conditions including stroke, spinal injuries, and motor neuron disease.
“The commencement of human trials of a commercial brain computer interface is a major milestone for the industry,” said Thomas Oxley, CEO of Synchron, who we previously interviewed here at Medgadget. “By using veins as a naturally-existing highway into the brain, we have been able to reach the clinical stage significantly earlier than other more invasive approaches.”
See a video about the system below.
Flashbacks: Stentrode Minimally Invasive Brain-Machine Interface: Interview with Dr. Thomas Oxley, Neurologist at Royal Melbourne Hospital; Stentrodes for Recording Electrical Activity Within the Brain; Stentrode Minimally Invasive Brain-Computer Interface Going on Trial
Device info page: Stentrode…