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The new soft nerve implant can be wirelessly controlled using a smartphone

Researchers have developed a soft nerve implant that can be wirelessly controlled using a smartphone. It is the first wireless nerve device capable of indefinitely delivering more drugs and more color lights, which neurologists believe can speed up efforts to detect brain diseases such as Parkinson's, Alzheimer's disease, addiction, depression and pain.

A team under Professor Jae-Wong ongong from the KAIST School of Electrical Engineering and his collaborators invented a device that can control nerve circuits with the help of a small smartphone-controlled brain implant. The device, using replacement cartridges for lego-replaceable drugs and powerful, low-energy Bluetooth, can target specific neurons of interest using drugs and light for longer periods. This study is published in Natural Biomedical Engineering.

This new device is the result of advanced electronics design and powerful micro and nano-scale engineering. We are interested in further developing this technology to do brain implantation for clinical applications. "

Jae-Wongong Jeong, Professor, Faculty of Electrical Engineering, KAIST

This technology significantly overshadows conventional methods used by neuroscientists, which typically include solid metal tubes and fiber optic for light and drug delivery. In addition to restricting the movement of the subject due to extensive equipment, their relatively rigid structure causes lesions in the soft tissue of the brain over time, making them not suitable for long-term implantation. Although some efforts have been made in part to mitigate adverse tissue reactions by incorporating soft probes and wireless platforms, previous solutions have been limited by their inability to deliver drugs over long periods of time, as well as their bulky and complex control settings.

To achieve chronic drug delivery, scientists had to address the critical challenge of drug exhaustion and evaporation. To counter this, the researchers invented a nerve device with a replacement cartridge for drugs that could allow neurologists to study the same brain circuits for several months without worrying about drug leakage.

These "plug-n-play" drug cartridges were assembled into a mouse implant for a mouse with a soft and ultra-thin probe (thick human hair), consisting of microfluidic channels and tiny LEDs (smaller than a grain of salt), for unlimited use. drug doses and light delivery.

Controlled by a sleek and simple smartphone interface, neurologists can easily activate any specific combination or precision light sequencing and drug delivery to any target animal without having to physically be in the lab. Using these wireless nerve devices, researchers can also easily set up fully automated animal studies, where one animal's behavior can affect other animals by activating light and / or drug delivery.

The wireless nerve device provides chronic chemical and optical neuromodulation that has not yet been achieved. "

Lead author Raza Kazi, Researcher, KAIST and University of Colorado Boulder


Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (KAIST)

Newspaper reference:

Kazi, R. et al. (2019) Wireless Optifluid Brain Probes for Chronic Neuropharmacology and Photostimulation. Biomedical engineering of nature.

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