Office of Technology Transfer – University of Michigan

Electrical Stimulation of Cell Growth with Patterned Electrodes

Technology #3111

Background

The effect of electrical stimulation on healing and cell growth has been explored for decades. Clinical studies have shown improved fracture healing by using electric and electromagnetic fields as early as the 1970s. Disk electrodes coupled to the skin via conductive gel have been developed that generate and deliver a broad noninvasive, capacitively coupled, and uniform electric field to the fracture site. The problem with conventional externally generated fields is that they cannot be directed preferentially to the fracture site, but rather are generally directed to large regions of an organism. Moreover, since the fields produced by conventional external electrodes are ordinary dipole fields the field strength diminishes with distance from the surface of the electrode. Thus, higher powers are required in order to deliver an effective field strength to the target cells.

Technology

Researchers at the University of Michigan have invented a device that use two- and three-dimensionally spatially modulated patterned electrodes for the application of a known quantitative and site-specific electromagnetic field to enhance cell and tissue regeneration by affecting cell differentiation and/or function.

Applications and Advantages

Applications

  • Electrical stimulation on healing and cell growth.

Advantages

  • Two or three dimensionally patterned-nl-electrodes can be used outside a body to-nl-stimulate spatial and temporal variation-nl-the specific local sites of cell/tissue-nl-regulation/generation; whereas conventional-nl-electromagnetic fields and electric currents-nl-generated from outside the body cannot be-nl-focused directly at the site of desired-nl-up-regulation or down-regulation of cell function.