Researchers at the Federal Polytechnic School of Lausanne in Switzerland are moving toward clinical trials with a biocompatible neuroprosthesis that they say can be applied directly to the brain or spinal cord without causing damage.
“Our e-Dura implant can remain for a long period of time on the spinal cord or the cortex because it has the same mechanical properties as the dura mater itself,” Stéphanie Lacour, PhD, chair of neuroprosthetic technology at the school and co-author of an article on the implant published in Science, stated in a press release. “This opens up new therapeutic possibilities for patients suffering from neurological trauma or disorders, particularly individuals who have become paralyzed following spinal cord injury.”
The device closely imitates mechanical properties of living tissue, and can stimulate the spinal cord at the point of injury using electrodes. It can also monitor electrical impulses from the brain in real-time, according to the findings.
The surface is covered with electric conducting tracks made of a silicon, platinum composite that can be bent in any direction and still maintain conductivity. Its fluidic microchannel enables delivery of pharmacological substances that restore nerve cells beneath injured tissue.
The e-Dura could drastically reduce risk of infection, according to the researchers, but it has not yet reached clinical trials on humans. The team working to add additional functions, to make it durable over a long period of time, and will ultimately move toward commercialization.
Lacour S. Science. 2015;doi:10.1126/science.1260960
Disclosure: See the article for a full list of all authors’ relevant financial disclosures.