"Disorders of the nervous system effect hundreds of millions of people worldwide and the costs of these afflictions, both in terms of life lost and healthcare expenditure, are a heavy burden on us all. We propose to employ the delivery property of the ion pump, coupled with a sensing electrochemical transistors to build an organic electronic artificial neuron for intervention into the malfunctioning signaling pathways implicated in specific neurological disorders. Of particular importance is the ion pump’s ability to precisely deliver the neurotransmitters glutamate and γ-aminobutyric acid, the primary excitatory and inhibitory neurotransmitters of the central nervous system, respectively. By regulating delivery of these and other molecules, the practitioner could selectively raise and lower the relative neural excitability within a small, well-defined region of the brain, such as one generating seizures, using a device easily integrated into standard surgical procedures developed for electrode implants. Moreover, autoregulation is made possibe by incorporating a sensing transistor to monitor variation in neurotransmitters concentration that will trigger release with the ion pump. The organic electronic nature of the ion pump and the electrochemical sensing transistor technologies makes them optimal for interfacing both biological systems and traditional electronics. Furthermore, the use of polymers and other bio-compatible soft materials, make them well suited for implant into the body. Using the body’s endogenous signaling system as the cue, self-regulated artificial neurons will enable new therapies whereby patients’ health can be restored by supplementing their malfunctioning signaling pathways, rather than invading them with substances and signals alien to the body. The artificial neuron can therefore provide therapy for a wide range of previously untreatable neurological disorders and help patients with these afflictions return to health."
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