Office of Technology Transfer – University of Michigan

Flexible, Miniaturized Neural Probe Coated with Biodegradable Polymer as Insertion Guide

Technology #5054

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Categories
Researchers
Euisik Yoon
Managed By
Joohee Kim
Licensing Specialist, Physical Sciences & Engineering 734.764.8202
Patent Protection
US Patent 9,427,164

Neural probes offier treatment, but results diminish over time

Implantable neural probes are becoming widely used for the treatment of many conditions, such as Parkinson’s disease and depression. However, chronic neural recordings have long been challenged by the inevitable degradation of signal quality over time. This is due in part to the formation of immune response-triggered glial scars, which can extinguish the functionality of the implanted probes. In order to reduce the extent of the immune system response, it is desirable for the probes to have a flexible body, small size and large separation gaps between structures. However, these same characteristics simultaneously decrease the probe’s mechanical stiffness and render the surgical process of implantation impractical.

Biodegradable coating benefits probe insertion and longetivity

Researchers at the University of Michigan have invented a new technique to design neural probes having excellent electrical characteristics without sacrificing the device’s mechanical stiffness and practicality. This is achieved by coating the probe with a biodegradable coating that temporarily provides the mechanical stiffness for insertion before completely degrading within the biological tissue. Moreover, the degradable coating may incorporate drugs, such as anti-inflammatory or neuronal growth factor, in order to further reduce the tissue reaction. This technology can offer new treatment options for a wide array of medical conditions that would benefit from probe implants in the brain or the spinal cord.

Applications

  • Implantable neural probes
  • Neuro-prosthetics

Advantages

  • Enables probe designs that maximize the longevity and signal sensitivity of the neural recording without sacrificing the mechanical stiffness.
  • Offers the possibility of incorporating drugs with specific release time