Neuromodulation therapy made easier with injectable electrodes

November 15, 2019

Implanted electrodes, for conditions that require nerve-stimulating treatment, are rigid, costly and usually involve surgery. However, a new “injectrode” (injectable electrode) solution could provide a much simpler, and cheaper, alternative to traditional implants.

Biomedical engineers at the University of Wisconsin-Madison (UW-Madison), a public research university in the US, designed a safe system composed of liquid silicone and metal nanoparticles – upon injection, the silicone cures within the body, taking on a flexible, stretchable consistency not unlike that of biological tissue; it would also not break or loosen unexpectedly.

While most of the injectrode sits around a nerve deep within the body, some of the silicone is deposited beneath the skin, where a thin insulated trail of the material connects the two areas. Then, a store-bought transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS) unit can electrically stimulate the nerve through the skin as/when needed.

The injectrode system has already been used to induce heart rate changes in animal subjects and put through a number of US Food and Drug Administration (US-FDA) preclinical tests.

On the latest approach to interacting with the nervous system, study co-author, Assoc. Professor Kip Ludwig, exclaims, “We can actually change how we talk to the nerve because we’re essentially just routing our connection to this deep nerve back to the surface of the skin.”


Category: Features, Pharmaceuticals

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