This scientific breakthrough research aims to design nanotechnology devices that would restore lost cognitive functions and repair brain injuries by bridging damaged nerve connections within the body.
The new project comes out of a long tradition of nanotechnology research and mechanical-biological interface research at UW. The new program is the next step in advancing the UW Funded nanotech innovation research initiatives.
Dr. Eberhard E. Fetz (image courtesy of the University of Washington), professor of physiology and biophysics at UW, has successfully implanted tiny, battery powered brain-computer interfaces called neurochips in several animals.
The neurochip is designed to record and process cell activity in a certain area of the brain and then stimulate several cells in a different part of the brain. The device's batteries allow for continues operation during a test animal's free behavior thus allowing for continuous interfacing between the brain and the neurochip.
The UW Main Campus (Image courtesy of the University of Washington)
The neurochip has several clinical and scientific research applications potentially including the reversal of paralysis. When the chip was tested on monkeys it was shown that the test subjects were capable of activating temporarily paralyzed arm muscles through the use cortical neurons.
Additionally, Dr. Fetz believes that the neurochip could be used to enhance the brain's natural plasticity to help damaged brain areas recover after a stroke or other injury.
Since the neurochip allows for bidirectional interfacing between different cells (unlike earlier mechanical-biological interfacing nanotechnology), it can easily exploit the brain's natural ability to reorganize itself by during healing. The neurochip could help a patient's brain adapt and use different areas of the brain to compensate for lost brain function.
Since the neurochip has the ability to strengthen weaker neurological connections and bridge broken connections, it has huge potential for repairing paralysis from strokes or spinal cord damage.
The neurochip could use motor-control signals from the brain to stimulate portions of the spinal cord. It has the potential to rebuild lost nerve connections between different areas of the brain or between the brain and the spinal cord.
This scientific breakthrough neurochip research at UW could potentially result in nanotechnology that would help regain lost motor functions. These neurochips might allow a patient to regain the ability to move parts of their body that were paralyzed by a stroke or spinal injury. As such, the new neurochip program is pushing the boundaries of established nanotechnology research and has many potential clinical applications.
To meet with active researchers at the University of Washington and learn more their new nanotechnology research and other exciting research programs, register to attend or to exhibit at Biotechnology Calendar, Inc.'s BioResearch Product Faire™ at UW on October 27, 2011.