A group of researchers from the University of La Laguna in Tenerifeand the Doctor Negrín University Hospital of Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, have developed a new device to measure brain activitywhich has been successfully implemented for the first time in the world.
It’s about a intraosseous optical implant whose first prototype has already been implanted in an animal model. The objective is that in the future pathologies such as Parkinson’s, among others, can be treated with this device that allows sending and receiving signals from the brain in a less invasive way. It does this by identifying activation patterns of the cerebral cortex that send rapid, high-precision signals to the muscles, whose regulation is given by deep brain nuclei.
This creates a motor control model that influences clinical treatments and technological development. A miniature optical implant has been developed, very little invasive which is placed in the thickness of the skull. It is the first brain implant to be placed outside the brain parenchyma, made up of neurons, glial cells and blood vessels, thus avoiding biocompatibility problems such as edema or inflammation that do occur with current microelectrode implants.
On behalf of the Doctor Negrín Hospital, it is doctors Jesús Morera, Sara Bisshopp and Brian Melchiorsen together with the veterinary anesthetist, responsible for the animal welfare area of the Research Unit of the hospital center who have been part of this project.
The complex surgery has been carried out with a surgical robot that guides the implantation trajectory of the deep electrodes and the prototype of intraosseous implant. This implant has been developed by the research team at the University of La Laguna, led by Estefanía Hernández Marín, the current researcher who has led multidisciplinary teams in Engineering and Neurology at the University and Hospital of California.
“This project has involved overcoming several steps and numerous milestones, facing errors that we have been solving, as they have been many firsts. From now on, we will focus on taking measurements of both implants to develop motor control models that benefit patients with motor diseases. ODIN has been the reason for my return to Europe, and I feel extremely grateful for having led and executed such an innovative project in my country,” says the researcher.
Also part of the research team are doctors José Luis Mora and Francisco Marcano, and engineers Óscar Pérez, Roberto Chávez and Zulema Castro. All this has been framed in the ODIN project, an example of a brain-computer interface, with devices that facilitate direct communication between the brain and external equipment.