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Dextran as a Resorbable Coating Material for Flexible Neural Probes
Journal Contribution - Journal Article
In the quest for chronically reliable and bio-tolerable brain interfaces there has been a steady evolution towards the use of highly flexible, polymer-based electrode arrays. The reduced mechanical mismatch between implant and brain tissue has shown to reduce the evoked immune response, which in turn has a positive effect on signal stability and noise. Unfortunately, the low stiffness of the implants also has practical repercussions, making surgical insertion extremely difficult. In this work we explore the use of dextran as a coating material that temporarily stiffens the implant, preventing buckling during insertion. The mechanical properties of dextran coated neural probes are characterized, as well as the different parameters which influence the dissolution rate. Tuning parameters, such as coating thickness and molecular weight of the used dextran, allows customization of the stiffness and dissolution time to precisely match the user's needs. Finally, the immunological response to the coated electrodes was analyzed by performing a histological examination after four months of in vivo testing. The results indicated that a very limited amount of glial scar tissue was formed. Neurons have also infiltrated the area that was initially occupied by the dissolving dextran coating. There was no noticeable drop in neuron density around the site of implantation, confirming the suitability of the coating as a temporary aid during implantation of highly flexible polymer-based neural probes.
Number of pages: 15