Usually, psychiatric illnesses and neurodegenerative diseases are treated with drugs or implanted electrodes. However, in the future we might be able to control these diseases by controlling the brain itself.

With a research led by Shaun Patel and Professor Charles M. Lieber from Harvard University, their team was able to design mesh electronics that would not only be more flexible than existing brain implants but would also have minimal side effects since it mimics the mechanism inside the brain itself. Mesh electronics are bio-inspired designs for neural probes that are directly implanted into the brain tissue and are designed to survive in the warm and humid environment inside our brain.

As the mesh electronics are designed to mimic the size, shape and even the texture of real neurons, the brain’s immune system does not treat the tiny electronic device as a foreign object and that provokes almost no immune response. In addition to that, it has the capability of recording and tracking individual neuron circuits for more than a year! The most groundbreaking function is that it has the capacity to encourage neural migration which could guide new neurons to damaged areas in the body.

With the use of these mesh electronics, scientists would be able to have a more precise map of the brain’s circuit which could help in finding better treatment methods for psychiatric illnesses. Personalized treatment using mesh electronics could give people better control of prosthetics or even improve human cognition.

The mesh electronics technology still has several problems to overcome such as the analysis of the huge amounts of data received or figuring out how many electrodes would be needed for different parts of the brain. Regardless, the mesh electronics have great potential that could revolutionize procedures of treatment within the medical field.

References

A new paper examines how neuron-like implants could treat brain disorders

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