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Nanotechnology based cochlear implant with gapless interface to auditory neurons

Objective

Over 60 million of citizens in the EU suffer from hearing loss with its associated restrictions. In severe cases, hearing can only be restored by surgically implanting a neuroprosthesis called cochlear implant, which directly stimulates the auditory nerve.
The bottleneck for optimal stimulation is caused by the anatomical gap between the electrode array and the auditory neurons in the inner ear. As a consequence, current devices are limited through (i) low frequency resolution, hence poor sound quality and (ii), strong signal amplification, hence high energy consumption responsible for significant battery costs and for impeding the development of fully implantable systems. Recent findings indicate that auditory nerve fibres can grow under neurotrophin stimulation towards the electrodes, which opens the door to address all issues simultaneously.
NANOCI aims at developing a neuroprosthesis with a gapless interface to auditory nerve fibres. The neurites will be attracted and guided by an innovative, nanostructured gel matrix containing diffusible and surface-bound neurotrophic compounds towards the functionalized, neurotrophic electrode array surface. The long-lasting operation without interface degradation, reduced biofouling and improved conductivity will be achieved by nanostructuring the array surface using (i) various functional nanomaterials, including carbon nanotubes, combined with (ii) structuration methodologies such as ion implantation and sacrificial nanoparticle embedding in parylene, SOLID (solid on liquid deposition) encapsulation, and sonochemistry. Components will be validated using appropriate bioassays including human auditory neurons in vitro. In parallel, software models will be developed to exploit the bidirectional, gapless interface. Fusing all developments, an animal-grade, pilot nanoCI-device is manufactured and tested in vivo. This will allow to assess the feasibility of a future, cost-efficient, and fully implantable neuroprosthesis with substantially increased sound quality.

Field of science

  • /humanities/languages and literature/linguistics/phonetics

Call for proposal

FP7-NMP-2011-SMALL-5
See other projects for this call

Funding Scheme

CP-FP - Small or medium-scale focused research project

Coordinator

UNIVERSITAET BERN
Address
Hochschulstrasse 6
3012 Bern
Switzerland
Activity type
Higher or Secondary Education Establishments
EU contribution
€ 657 756
Administrative Contact
Pascal Senn (Dr.)

Participants (8)

EBERHARD KARLS UNIVERSITAET TUEBINGEN
Germany
EU contribution
€ 539 150
Address
Geschwister-scholl-platz
72074 Tuebingen
Activity type
Higher or Secondary Education Establishments
Administrative Contact
Hubert Loewenheim (Dr.)
UPPSALA UNIVERSITET
Sweden
EU contribution
€ 316 044
Address
Von Kraemers Alle 4
751 05 Uppsala
Activity type
Higher or Secondary Education Establishments
Administrative Contact
Siv Utterberg (Ms.)
TAMPEREEN YLIOPISTO
Finland
EU contribution
€ 364 800
Address
Kalevantie 4
33014 Tampere
Activity type
Higher or Secondary Education Establishments
Administrative Contact
Susanna Airila (Ms.)
HAUTE ECOLE SPECIALISEE DE SUISSE OCCIDENTALE
Switzerland
EU contribution
€ 590 902
Address
Route De Moutier 14
2800 Delemont
Activity type
Higher or Secondary Education Establishments
Administrative Contact
Herbert Keppner (Prof.)
BAR ILAN UNIVERSITY
Israel
EU contribution
€ 415 068
Address
Bar Ilan University Campus
52900 Ramat Gan
Activity type
Higher or Secondary Education Establishments
Administrative Contact
Estelle Waise (Ms.)
EMC MICROCOLLECTIONS GMBH
Germany
EU contribution
€ 278 800
Address
Sindelfinger Str. 3
72070 Tuebingen
Activity type
Private for-profit entities (excluding Higher or Secondary Education Establishments)
Administrative Contact
Renate Spohn (Dr.)
MED-EL Elektromedizinische Geraete GmbH
Austria
EU contribution
€ 316 233
Address
Fuerstenweg 77A
6020 Innsbruck
Activity type
Private for-profit entities (excluding Higher or Secondary Education Establishments)
Administrative Contact
Ingeborg Hochmair (Prof.)
SCIPROM SARL
Switzerland
EU contribution
€ 121 100
Address
Rue Du Centre 70
1025 Saint Sulpice
Activity type
Private for-profit entities (excluding Higher or Secondary Education Establishments)
Administrative Contact
Peter Ulrich (Dr.)