A revolutionary smartphone enabled device for brain cell stimulation and direct drug delivery has been developed by a team of American and South Korean scientists. The wireless device has facilitated an unheard of optical and chronic chemical neuromodulation in mice who are being tested with the device.
The device still has to be worked upon before it can be used for targeted clinical research. The scientists began research with a view to developing a superior device than the currently used probe models for the brain. The traditional probes comprise stiff tubes of metal and optical fibers for delivery of drugs and stimuli to the brain. The tube rigidity sometimes leads to development of brain lesions in addition to having restricted drug delivery capacity.
The superiority of the new device lies in its flexibility and ease of use. Highly thin probes using smartphone enabled Bluetooth low energy facilitates stimulation of specific brain cells and drug delivery to the brain. The light weight device holds the drugs in minute cartridges that can be easily replaced when needed. This has resulted in greater safety and longevity of the device.
Study author Prof. Michael Bruchas emphasized the capability of the device in enhancing efforts of researchers for development of pain treating therapies and also for neuropsychiatric and neurological conditions. The device will greatly facilitate them while analyzing the neural circuits that form the basis of behavior and working of the brain nueromodulators. Programmed animal study models could also be greatly facilitated by the device.
The team hopes one day to use the device for understanding the reasons for varied health conditions of the brain like Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, clinical depression and addiction. For the time being, however, the researchers’ work on mice will continue to achieve the desired level of perfection.
The result findings have been published in the periodical, ‘Nature Biomedical Engineering’.