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Regenerative organic nano-electronic implants

Neurodegenerative diseases and trauma can cause paralysis and reduce patient mobility. EU-funded researchers developed and implanted an active multifunctional device (AMID) in a mouse model of spinal cord injury (SCI) with encouraging results.
Regenerative organic nano-electronic implants
The socioeconomic burden of paralysis and diseases like Parkinson's is immense. To restore mobility, reduce inflammation and promote recovery, the IONE-FP7 (Implantable organic nano-electronics) project designed innovative implantable AMIDs with biodegradable scaffolds that can be controlled remotely.

IONE-FP7 developed methodologies and protocols for in vitro and in vivo testing to minimise animal experimentation while optimising device design. Researchers systematically optimised and scaled their prototype for in vivo implantation through the development of novel fabrication tools and techniques and prototyping.

Several breakthroughs were realised, including extracellular detection of the calcium wave in glial cells. Researchers fabricated an organic synapse transistor also referred to as nanoparticle organic memory field-effect transistor (NOMFET). These NOMFETs can generate electrical signal patterns that are similar to neuronal signalling and thereby stimulate neuronal growth and connections. Four such organic FETs were integrated in an electrochemically gated architecture (EGOFET) for the AMID. The EGOFET design was successfully used to function as a transducer as well as biosensor of neurotransmitters and inflammatory cytokines.

The final AMID comprised the biodegradable poly-lactic-glycolic acid with interdigitated gold electrodes to ensure adequate stimulation and microfluidic channels for drug delivery. Minocycline was selected for testing as it has shown promising results in phase II clinical trials.

Scientists successfully transmitted electric signals to the peripheral motor nerve on application of pulsed electric stimulation to the SCI site via an implanted AMID. As a result, muscle contraction was seen in the leg muscle of paraplegic mice under anaesthesia. Studies assessing treatment efficacy and inflammatory response are ongoing beyond the project period through further research collaborations on implantable organic bioelectronics.

Project activities included the publication of 31 papers in 3 years. Outcomes were disseminated via two showcases, several invited talks, mass media, an international workshop and a LinkedIn forum.

IONE-FP7 researchers have successfully demonstrated the potential of AMIDs in loco-regional therapy and nerve regeneration. Other applications include biomedical areas such as pain therapy, anaesthesia and neurodegenerative diseases. Outcomes have led to the preparation of a joint patent and the establishment of a start-up company in bioelectronics. Successful translation of results for clinical application in humans will have innumerable benefits.

Related information


Nano-electronic, neurodegenerative, active multifunctional device, spinal cord injury, neuronal
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