Tag Archives: implant

FDA Allows Brain Implants for Obsessions

By manipulating the magnetization of a liquid solution, the researchers have for the first time coaxed magnetic and non-magnetic materials to form intricate nano-structures. The resulting structures can be “fixed,” meaning they can be permanently linked together. This raises the possibility of using these structures as basic building blocks for such diverse applications as advanced optics, cloaking devices, data storage and bioengineering.

Changing the levels of magnetization of the fluid controls how the particles are attracted to or repelled by each other. By appropriately tuning these interactions, the magnetic and non-magnetic particles form around each other much like a snowflake forms around a microscopic dust particle.

“We have demonstrated that subtle changes in the magnetization of a fluid can create an environment where a mixture of different particles will self-assemble into complex superstructures,” said Randall Erb, fourth-year graduate student. He performed these experiments in conjunction with another graduate student Hui Son, in the laboratory of Benjamin Yellen, assistant professor of mechanical engineering and materials science and lead member of the research team.

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Researchers develop ‘wireless’ activation of brain circuits

And it’s a unique collaboration between chemists and neuroscientists that led to the discovery of a remarkable new way to use light to activate brain circuits with nanoparticles.

Ben Strowbridge, an associate professor in the neurosciences department in the Case Western Reserve School of Medicine and Clemens Burda, an associate professor in chemistry, say it’s rare in science that people from very different fields get together and do something that is both useful and that no one had thought of before. But that is exactly what they’ve done.

By using semiconductor nanoparticles as tiny solar cells, the scientists can excite neurons in single cells or groups of cells with infrared light. This eliminates the need for the complex wiring by embedding the light-activated nanoparticles directly into the tissue. This method allows for a more controlled reaction and closely replicates the sophisticated focal patterns created by natural stimuli.

The electrodes used in previous nerve stimulations don’t accurately recreate spatial patterns created by the stimuli and also have potential damaging side effects.

“There are many different things you’d want to stimulate neurons for-injury, severed or damaged nerve to restore function- and right now you have to put a wire in there, and then connect that to some control system. It is both very invasive and a difficult thing to do,” says Strowbridge.

IIn principle, the researchers should be able to implant these nanoparticles next to the nerve, eliminating the requirement for wired connections. They can then use light to activate the particles.

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Extinct animals could be brought back to life thanks to advances in DNA technology

The idea of resurrecting extinct animals moved a step closer to reality last year when scientists announced that they had decoded almost all of the genome of the woolly mammoth, from 60,000-year-old remains found frozen in Siberia.

Now New Scientist magazine has named the 10 other beasts most likely to rise again, including the Irish elk deer whose antlers measured 12 feet across, the dodo and Neanderthal man.

Animals that died out thousands of years ago could be recreated using genetic information retrieved from well-preserved specimens recovered from permafrost, dark caves or dry desserts.

There is no chance of bringing back the dinosaurs because genetic information is unlikely to survive more than a million years in any environment.

But scientists have just announced they had “resurrected” a gene from the Tasmanian tiger by implanting it in a mouse and examined its function – the first time such a feat had been achieved.

The genomes of several extinct species besides the mammoth are already being sequenced.

To revive a long-dead species scientists would have to recover enough DNA from a well-preserved specimen and find a suitable surrogate species similar to that of the extinct animal in which to grow the new baby from an embryo.

“It’s hard to say that something will never ever be possible,”said Svante Pääbo of the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig, Germany, who is sequencing the Neanderthal genome.

“But it would require technologies so far removed from what we currently have that I cannot imagine how it would be done.”

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Brain implant allows mute man to speak

An electrode implanted into the brain of a man who is unable to move or communicate has enabled him to use a speech synthesizer to produce vowel sounds as he thinks them.

The work could one day help similar patients to produce whole sentences using signals from their brains, say the researchers.

Frank Guenther of Boston University in Massachusetts and his colleagues worked with a patient who has locked-in syndrome, a condition in which patients are almost completely paralysed — often able to move only their eyelids — but still fully conscious.

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Single Neuron Un-Paralyzes Monkeys in Test

Research are finding that rerouting nerve signals in primates may be surprisingly easy

DailyTech previously covered how monkeys had been wired with brain probes to a mechanical arm, which they learned to control. Now another experiment has taken such concepts, much farther, reversing paralysis in monkeys through neuron implantation.

Eberhard Fetz, a professor of physiology and biophysics at the University of Washington, led the research. The researchers began by paralyzing the nerves leading to the monkeys’ arms. They then placed a single wire on a neuron in the monkeys’ neural cortexes. From there they routed the signal to a single neuron implanted in the monkeys’ arm muscles. The computer detected a specific firing pattern in the brain neuron and would then signal the neuron in the arm.

The electric “re-routing” working surprisingly well and the monkeys regained control of their wrists. Their new capability was assessed by a simple video game. The game was controlled by the monkeys’ wrist motions. By moving their wrists, they could move a cursor onscreen and by moving it to a box on the side, they could earn a reward. With the incentive of the reward the monkeys soon learned to move their wrists, even though the motor cortex neuron was selected at random.

Chet Moritz, a senior research fellow at the University of Washington and coauthor of the researchers’ paper states, “We found, remarkably, that nearly every neuron that we tested in the brain could be used to control this type of stimulation. Even neurons which were unrelated to the movement of the wrist before the nerve block could be brought under control and co-opted.”

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Nanodiamond drug device could transform cancer treatment

A Northwestern University research team has developed a promising nanomaterial-based biomedical device that could be used to deliver chemotherapy drugs locally to sites where cancerous tumors have been surgically removed.

The flexible microfilm device, which resembles a piece of plastic wrap and can be customized easily into different shapes, has the potential to transform conventional treatment strategies and reduce patients’ unnecessary exposure to toxic drugs. The device takes advantage of nanodiamonds, an emergent technology, for sustained drug release.

The researchers demonstrated that the device releases the chemotherapy agent Doxorubicin in a sustained and consistent manner — a requirement of any implanted device for localized chemotherapy. The results of the study are published online today (Oct. 2) by the journal ACS Nano.

“The thin device — a sort of blanket or patch — could be used to treat a localized region where residual cancer cells might remain after a tumor is removed,” said Dean Ho, assistant professor of biomedical engineering and mechanical engineering at Northwestern’s McCormick School of Engineering and Applied Science, who led the research.

If a surgical oncologist, for example, was removing a tumor from the breast or brain, the device could be implanted in the affected area as part of the same surgery. This approach, which confines drug release to a specific location, could mitigate side effects and complications from other chemotherapy treatments.

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Beyond Nano Breakthrough, MIT Team Quietly Builds Virus-Based Batteries

In a surprise development that could have implications for powering electronics, cars and even the military, researchers at MIT have created the world’s first batteries constructed at the nano scale by microscopic viruses.

A much-buzzed-about paper published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences earlier this month details the team’s success in creating two of the three parts of a working battery—the positively charged anode and the electrolyte. But team leader Angela Belcher told PM Wednesday that the team has been seriously working on cathode technology for the past year, creating several complete prototypes.

“We haven’t published those yet, actually. We’re just getting ready to write them up and send them off,” says Belcher, who won a MacArthur genius grant for her work in 2004 and a Breakthrough Award from PM in 2006. “The cathode material has been a little more difficult, but we have several different candidates, and we have made full, working batteries.”

Instead of physically arranging the component parts, researchers genetically engineer viruses to attract individual molecules of materials they’re interested in, like cobalt oxide, from a solution, autonomously forming wires 17,000 times thinner than a sheet of paper that pack themselves together to form electrodes smaller than a human cell.

“Once you do the genetic engineering with the viruses themselves, you pour in the solution and they grow the right combination of these materials on them,” Belcher says.

The team is working on three main architectures: Filmlike structures—as small as a human cell—could form a clear film to power lab-on-a-chip applications to laminate into smart cards, or even to interface with implanted medical devices. Meshlike architectures—billions of tiny nano-components all interfaced together—might one day replace conventional batteries in larger applications such as laptops and cars. And fiberlike configurations—spun from liquid crystal like a spider’s silk—might one day be woven into textiles, providing a wearable power source for the military. “We definitely don’t have full batteries on those [fiber architectures]. We’ve only worked on single electrodes so far, but the idea is to try to make these fiber batteries that could be integrated into textiles and woven into lots of different shapes,” Belcher says.

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Paws for thought: Pet dog fitted with £10,000 bionic leg

A beloved pet bulldog has been fitted with a £10,000 bionic leg, which will help advance prosthetic techniques used to help bombing victims.

Coal, an eight-and-a-half year old hound had his left paw amputated because of cancer last year. He faced being put down because his other legs would be too weak to carry him.

But his determined owner Reg Walker, shelled out thousands of pounds to fit him with a sophisticated bionic leg, which was designed to be compatible with Coal’s own tissue.

The titanium alloy used mimics animal hide, allowing the skin and the bone from above to seal the metal implant below without it being rejected by the body.

It is only the second time such an operation had been performed on an animal, using a technique performed on a survivor of the London 7/7 bombings.

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Bionic ‘super lenses’ that correct long AND short-sightedness developed

Bionic implants that promise to give 45-year-olds the vision of someone 20 years younger could be available in just five years.

The ‘super lenses’ will correct both long and short-sightedness, allowing patients to throw away their glasses for good.

What is more, those who undergo the half-hour operation will not develop cataracts in old age, the British Association’s Festival of Science heard.

Professor James Wolffsohn said: ‘Everyone over 45 would benefit because it means they will be able to see distance and near absolutely naturally.

‘It is the true definition of a bionic eye. You are replacing something that has aged in the eye with a technological structure.’

The concept is based on existing technology – the tiny plastic lenses that have been implanted into the eye after cataract surgery for decades.

These are stiff, however, and while the operation makes vision clearer, it does nothing to treat short or long-sightedness.

More flexible lenses called accommodating intraocular lenses have recently hit the market but they, like laser surgery, only treat either long or short sight.

Scientists are now trying to create extra-flexible ‘super lenses’ which could be squeezed by the eye’s muscles into the shapes needed to focus on both near and distant objects – and all points in between.

They would be inserted into the eye in a simple operation that replaces the existing lens.

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Growing Neural Implants

Conductive polymer coatings that weave their way into implanted tissue might one day improve the performance of medical implants, such as cochlear implants and brain stimulators used to treat Parkinson’s disease. In early studies, neural interfaces coated with an electrically conductive polymer outperformed conventional metal counterparts. Scientists at the University of Michigan hope that the material’s novel properties will help lessen the tissue damage caused by medical implants and boost long-term function.

Use of devices that are surgically implanted into the brain or other parts of the nervous system is growing rapidly. Cochlear implants, which help deaf people hear, and deep brain stimulation, which relieves symptoms of Parkinson’s disease, for example, are approved by the Food and Drug Administration. Both work by stimulating nerve cells via an implanted electrode. Devices that record and translate neural activity are also under development for people with severe paralysis.

But as use of neural implants grows, so does concern over the damage that those devices can impose on neural tissue. Insertion of the rigid metal electrode into soft tissue triggers a cascade of inflammatory signals, damaging or killing neurons and triggering a scar to form around the metal. “We hope to come up with a way to communicate across the scar layer and send information to and from the device in a way that is as friendly as possible,” says David Martin, a materials scientists at the University of Michigan, in Ann Arbor, who is leading the research into the polymer coatings.

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