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Flexible, Injectable Electrode Can Replace Solid Nerve-Stimulating Implants

November 21, 2019

By stimulating nerves electrically, neuromodulation treatments can soothe chronic pain, lower epileptic seizures, and cure depression and a series of other health issues without the employment of traditional drugs such as opioids. Now, biomedical engineers from University of Wisconsin-Madison and their collaborators have made a noteworthy enhancement that can dramatically lower the price of neuromodulation treatment, make it much less insidious, and elevate its reliability.

With a kind of electrode that can be inserted as a liquid and then treat the body, the scientists have laid the foundation for a new type of neural interface system. The scientists revealed their creation, which they have named as the “injectrode,” in a paper posted in the Advanced Healthcare Materials journal.

Today’s treatments for neuromodulation depend on surgically implanted machines that can need complex processes to install, cost a huge amount, and often fail—considering that they are rigid machines making an effort to mesh with soft biological tissue. The system by researchers leverages a completely new method of thinking.

“You can insert the liquid surrounding the nerve, and it cures in the body to make a wired connection,” claimed Kip Ludwig. “Normal implants are actually stiff, and so as the body shifts, they break down and wear & tear. Our liquid cures, and the outcome is much same as the tissue’s normal elasticity. You can in fact stretch it and elevate its size 150–200% without getting rid of its conductivity.”

On a related note, an global team of scientists has employed nanoparticles to deliver a drug—one that earlier failed in clinical tests for pain—into particular divisions of nerve cells, radically enhancing its capability of treating pain in rats as well as mice. The results are posted in Nature Nanotechnology.

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