recentlyNature Biomedical EngineeringPublished a new invention from a team of Korean and American scientists,Successful control of mouse neural circuits by using tiny brain implants controlled by smartphonesThis invention will drive a major step forward in the study of neural processes in brain health and disease.
Specifically, the device is capable ofThe regulatory input is transmitted to the brain circuit through a small, non-invasive implant, which in turn is wirelessly controlled by the smartphone Bluetooth.The brain implant device uses a replaceable drug cartridge that can be administered as well as to transmit LED light.Regulation of nerve cells by pharmacology and optogenetics.
Mouse brain implant equipment (Source: Korea Institute of Advanced Science and Technology)
The researchers said thatThis soft nerve implant is the first wireless nerve device capable of transmitting multiple drugs and light.. The device accelerates the research and treatment of brain diseases, including Parkinson's, Alzheimer's disease, addiction, depression and pain.
First, the challenge of brain implant equipment
The optogenetics technology is to transfer the photoreceptor gene into a specific type of nerve cells through genetic engineering technology, so that it forms a photo-sensitive ion channel on the surface of nerve cells. Under different wavelengths of light stimulation, the photo-sensitive ion channel will have cell membrane cations. Or the passage of anions produces selectivity, thereby achieving the purpose of selective excitation or inhibition of neurons.
The optogenetics technology enables scientists to control the milliseconds of neurons only by illumination. It not only provides a revolutionary tool for understanding the mechanisms of brain mystery and nervous system diseases, but also brings treatment for many complex diseases. Bright prospects.
Although optogenetics can accurately manipulate neural activity in complex neural circuits,IlluminationStill the main obstacle limiting its clinical application in vivo. How to transmit light to the deep part of the brain becomes a technical challenge placed in front of scientists.
Optogenetic Technology (Source: Stanford University)
Traditional brain neuronal cell regulation involves the use of rigid metal tubes or fibers with optical fibers to deliver drugs and light to brain cells. but,Such devices can significantly limit the patient's activities to physical connections.This is also a major problem currently facing.
Another equally important issue isThe rigidity of most devices can cause scarring of the brain and can cause trauma to adjacent brain tissue over time, which means that such devices can only be implanted for a short time.. One way to reduce the incidence of brain scars is to use soft probes and avoid wired connections. However, soft probes require large, complex devices for fine-tuning, while drugs and electrical energy in wireless-connected devices evaporate or deplete over time and require frequent replenishment.
In order to solve the key challenges of drug depletion and wired connection, and to achieve long-term wireless drug delivery and light control, researchers from the Korea Institute of Advanced Science and Technology and the University of Washington School of Medicine have invented a new type of neural device that allows neuroscientists to Study the same specific brain circuit in a few months without worrying about drugs or exhaustion.
Second, detachable medicine box +APP Bluetooth control
Raza Qazi, the first author of the latest research paper, and the School of Electrical Engineering at the Korea Institute of Advanced Science and Technology, explained that “the current innovations can change all of this. Wireless neural devices enable long-term chemical and optical neuromodulation that has never been achieved before. ”
The basic principle of this innovation is also very simple.A soft and extremely thin probe with only the diameter of a human hair. The probe is equipped with a microfluidic channel and an LED illuminator smaller than the salt particles. The probe is fitted into a detachable drug cartridge, which is inserted into the cartridge. This means that the implant can be used to provide the drug for almost a long period of time by simply replacing the drug cartridge.
The photo of the wireless device, the part actually embedded in the brain is the right probe part, which is only one hair size, and a very small LED light is embedded at the tip of the probe to emit red and blue light (Source: Nature Biomedical Engineering)
The wireless device developed by the research team is characterized by Bluetooth control, so no cable is needed, and the control system is simplified to a simple APP user interface on the smartphone, enabling scientists working on the brain to remotely control drug delivery and illumination.
Demonstrate through-wall control of Bluetooth wireless devices (Source: Nature Biomedical Engineering)
And because it isMade of soft material, so little damage to the brain. In addition, since the drug cartridge can be replaced at any time, there is no need to remove the wireless device to replenish the drug, which means itCan be used continuously longer than traditional wireless devices.
The Korean and American researchers have been collaborating on this project for more than three years. During the study, dozens of different equipment designs were studied, and the soft implantable device was designed and tested in mice. The mice in the device were free to move, and the research team successfully controlled the mice to circle in a 50 square meter room in a light stimulation experiment.
This device also facilitates fully automated research on animalsSuch research can use light or drugs to trigger specific patterns of behavior in specific experimental animals and then observe how this behavior affects the behavior of other animals.
One of the authors of the paper, Jae-Woong Jeong, a researcher at the School of Electronic Engineering at the Korea Institute of Advanced Science and Technology, said: "This revolutionary device is the result of advanced electronic design and powerful micro and nano-scale engineering. In fact, the team hopes to further refine the device to ultimately produce clinically relevant brain implants. ”
Michael Bruchas, an anesthesiologist at the University of Washington School of Medicine's Department of Basic Research, who is the author of the paper, said the new technology will be of great help to researchers in a variety of fields.Not only does it help to clarify the brain's work, it also provides a complex combination of treatments for specific diseases.
“It allows us to better analyze the neural circuit basis of behavior and how specific neuromodulations in the brain regulate behavior in a variety of ways. We are also eager to use this device for complex pharmacological research, which will help us develop new ways to treat pain, addiction and mood disorders. ”