A multi-institutional group of researchers has developed a “brain-friendly” interface that could someday replace the use of implantable neuroprostheses, according to data recently published in Microsystems and Engineering.
While neural prosthetic devices can fail due to rejection from a patient’s immune system or to a mismatch between the device and the patient’s brain tissue, the extracellular matrix developed by Lohitash Karumbaiah, PhD and colleagues is able to adapt to the neural properties of brain tissue.
Karumbaiah is assistant professor of Regenerative Medicine at the University of Georgia and a researcher with the university’s Regenerative Bioscience Center.
“This is not by any means the device that you are going to implant into a patient,” Karumbaiah stated in a press release. “This is proof of concept that extracellular matrix can be used to ensheathe a functioning electrode without the use of any other foreign or synthetic materials.”
Karumbaiah and colleagues found that the electrodes created by the extracellular matrix were able to adapt to the mechanical properties of brain tissue and to acquire neural readings from the cortex.
“Hopefully, once we converge upon the nanofabrication techniques that would enable these to be clinically translational, this same methodology could then be applied in getting these extracellular matrix derived electrodes to be the next wave of brain implants,” Karumbaiah said.
He added that further collaboration among researchers and prosthetic industry leaders will allow the two groups to make positive changes for patients.
“It is the researcher-to-industry kind of conversation that now needs to take place, where companies need to come in and ask: ‘What have you learned? How are the devices deficient, and how can we make them better?’” he said.
Shen W, et al. Microsystems & Nanoengineering. 2015;doi:10.1038/micronano.2015.10.