With this flexible brain implant, researchers have managed to detect the group of neurons responsible for pain in order to control their functioning using pulses of LED light.
Pain is an experience sensory and emotional inherent to all living beings that have a central nervous system, but it is often difficult to understand what mechanisms trigger the perception of pain in patients with chronic conditions, as well as the protocols to follow to treat it effectively. But a new flexible implant could provide relevant data on the origin of the pain sensation of many patients, even relieving these ailments thanks to the light pulses that incorporates this wirelessly activated LED brain implant.
This microLED soft and flexible touch uses a technology invented more than a decade ago called optogenetics, which has recently been tested in mice to demonstrate the possibility of manipulating several neuronal circuits that are known to participate in the mechanisms of pain perception. This experimental technique for the symptomatic treatment of pain requires modification of the DNA of the responsible neurons to ensure that they activate or deactivate at will, using a LED light pulse technique that includes said implant.
However, one of the aspects that most worries patients suffering from chronic ailments are the feared side effects derived from these surgical interventions. In this aspect, the group of researchers led by professors John Rogers and Robert Gereau has also shown that the implants can be worn for long periods of time without limiting the patient’s motor function or generating significant damage to the neuronal tissues.
According to researchers, optogenetics is giving very good results to understand in greater depth how different groups of people work. interconnected neurons to carry out certain specific functions of the human body. However, current techniques limit their use to localized areas of the nervous system close to resistant parts of the human skeleton such as bones or the skull, in order to solidly fix the external light source provided by a fiber optic cable.
But with this new LED brain implant flexible and the possibility of activating it wirelessly, the inconveniences of optogenetics with external light sources are dispensed with. The key to this pain control device lies in a tiny antenna and flexible which captures energy from radiofrequency signals to power the implant. Furthermore, the use of materials extra fine and flexible as a basis for the construction of LED microchipprovide mechanical properties very similar to those of biological tissues that allow this device to be implanted in any part of the body.
During the experiments, the scientists implanted the devices in mice, either in the epidural region of the spinal cord or above the sciatic nerve. The data reported have made it possible to detect the group of neurons responsible for the behaviors associated with chronic pain, and in turn, the possibility of transforming them into photosensitive ones for activation and deactivation by pulses of LED light. With these data, the researchers hope to understand more precisely the mechanism that causes the neurons of the peripheral nervous system and the spinal cord activate the perception of pain, in order to establish new therapies that use optogenetics to reduce the discomfort of chronic pain in patients.
Images | via pixabay and nature biotechnology