Miniatuurimplanteerbare zenuwstimulator met hoge resolutie voor elektrotechnisch onderzoek (HiMISER)
In my ERC project ‘µThalys’, we are researching future concepts for electronic medical implants. The main idea is to replace current medical implants that typically consist of a titanium casing with electronics and a few lead wires with less intrusive, softer, tissue-like implants. These future generation implants consist of soft, modular, miniature transducer nodes that can act stand-alone, or be connected in a network, thus forming e.g. an implantable sensor network. Now, the main idea driving this proof-of-concept (PoC) project application is that the results of our research could be very suitable to apply in an upcoming field that uses peripheral autonomous nerve stimulation for therapeutic ends. This is mostly referred to as ‘electroceuticals’ or ‘bioelectric medicine’. Rather than using chemical drugs that circulate through the entire body, the field of electroceuticals aims to develop therapies based on local stimulation of a nerve of the autonomous nervous system that leads to the target organ. For example, instead of taking drugs to reduce stomach acid formation the part of the vagus nerve going to the stomach can be stimulated to achieve the same therapeutic effect while reducing side-effects. However, current nerve stimulation devices are rather crude and stimulate all fibres in a nerve using a cuff electrode. Moreover, they are too large to allow them to be used in small animal studies. The non-availability of a miniature, high-resolution peripheral nerve stimulator is therefore a significant roadblock for researchers in the field, and for the future application in humans. In this project, we will combine our existing research results from the µThalys project to create a new generation of stimulators. Miniature electronics devices, packaging and soft high-resolution neural implants will enable miniature proof-of-concept devices that demonstrate precision stimulation in peripheral nerves. First steps towards commercialisation will be taken.