According to an international team of researchers, a wireless, biodegradable sensor might offer doctors a method to monitor brain dynamics without required a second operation to remove the implant.
In a minimally invasive experiment on mice, researchers inserted a wireless, biodegradable apparatus into a mouse''s deep brain region. The device collected data on dopamine, an important neurotransmitter, and other factors of the brain, such as pH levels, temperature, and electrophysiology, before harmlessly dissolving back into the body.
Dopamine is vital in many neural-related situations, but doctors may develop a biodegradable sensor to detect the neurotransmitter for a wide spectrum of treatments and operations.
Dr. Larry Cheng, a Dorothy Quiggle professor in engineering, believes that neurotransmitters play a large part in a wide variety of neural related diseases. I believe that people in the past have studied a lot of other functions, such as temperature, fever, or sweating, in real time. These factors may be quite helpful if we can have the direct measurement of this neurotransmitter at the target location, and in turn, more direct and even helpful, because information can sometimes be very difficult to infer based
The silicon-based implant includes a semiconductor called two-dimensional transition metal dichalcogenides (TMDCs), which is considered an emerging class of materials widely used in nanoelectronics and nanophotonics. The ability for these atomically thin TMDCs to be manipulated allowed the scientists to determine the implant to be biodegradable, yet to maintain electrical and electrochemical performance.
All of this equipment must be placed into a probe that measured about 13 or 14 millimeters long, according to Cheng. For perspective, the diameter of a regular strength aspirin is about 14 millimeters.
It''s really for the whole device, but if we were talking about the sensor, then we''d say it, too, according to Cheng, who is also a member of theMaterials Research Institute.
The group then tested the device by inserting the probe into a small part of the mouse''s brain called the basal ganglia.
Cheng said patients would wear a headband or other type of apparatus to transmit implants signals to the medical personnel who may be used to monitor the patient''s condition.
According to the scientists, the primary benefit of a biodegradable device is that it would require no additional surgery to alleviate recovery problems.
The device is currently being removed after full recovery, or there will be just something inside we don''t need to use, according to Cheng. So here, the device is designed to be biodegradable, and after a certain amount of time and after its function, it can safely dissolve. So, the patient will not have to undergo the second surgery to remove the device.
According to Cheng, the sheer amount of chemicals, materials, and designs that might be used to make this device required advanced computing techniques. Computers were used to simulate different chemicals, bioengineering schemes, to find the ideal materials and design to detect and measure the target molecule, in this case, dopamine.
We''ll need to introduce the material to model the 2D material and the dopamine, and then you must ensure they are stable, according to Cheng. So, we''ll have to optimize the initial structure and then we''ll further investigate the relationship between the stabilized material and the dopamine.
Ultimately, the team hopes that the device will be utilized to assist human patients, but they predict that an immediate need might be for doctors who are involved in animal research.
According to Cheng, the implant may first be available in animal studies where it might initially aid scientists in understanding how a disease progresses, how a patient recovers from a treatment, and how effective that treatment is.
Future projects might be aimed at establishing a sensor that monitors other aspects of brain chemistry, beyond dopamine detection, according to Cheng.