Brain Implant

For Alzheimer's, Parkinson’s, addiction, depression, and pain

Golden alien

Golden alien

A team of scientists in Korea and the United States have invented a device that can access neural circuits using a tiny brain implant controlled by a smartphone. “This revolutionary device is the fruit of advanced electronics design and powerful micro and nanoscale engineering,” said Jae-Woong Jeong, a professor of electrical engineering at the Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (KAIST).

Researchers, publishing in Nature Biomedical Engineering, believe the device can speed up efforts to uncover brain diseases such as Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, addiction, depression, and pain.

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Brain Cartridges

Lego-like replaceable drug cartridges and powerful bluetooth are being used to target specific neurons of interest.

These “plug-n-play” drug cartridges were assembled into a brain implant with a soft and ultrathin probe (thickness of a human hair), which consisted of microfluidic channels and tiny LEDs (smaller than a grain of salt), for unlimited drug doses and light delivery.

“The wireless neural device enables chronic chemical and optical neuromodulation that has never been achieved before,” said lead author Raza Qazi, a researcher with KAIST and University of Colorado Boulder.

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Qazi said this technology significantly overshadows conventional methods used by neuroscientists, which usually involve rigid metal tubes and optical fibers to deliver drugs and light. Apart from limiting the subject’s movement due to the physical connections with bulky equipment, their relatively rigid structure causes lesion in soft brain tissue over time, therefore making them not suitable for long-term implantation

Using a smartphone, neuroscientists can easily trigger any specific combination or precise sequencing of light and drug deliveries in any implanted target subject without need to be physically nearby.

“We are interested in further developing this technology to make a brain implant for clinical applications,” said Jae-Woong Jeong.

Referencei Raza Qazi, Adrian M. Gomez, Daniel C. Castro, Zhanan Zou, Joo Yong Sim, Yanyu Xiong, Jonas Abdo, Choong Yeon Kim, Avery Anderson, Frederik Lohner, Sang-Hyuk Byun, Byung Chul Lee, Kyung-In Jang, Jianliang Xiao, Michael R. Bruchas, Jae-Woong Jeong. Wireless optofluidic brain probes for chronic neuropharmacology and photostimulation. Nature Biomedical Engineering, 2019; DOI: 10.1038/s41551-019-0432-1
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