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A step toward better brain implants using conducting polymer nanotubes
Date:9/29/2009

ANN ARBOR, Mich.---Brain implants that can more clearly record signals from surrounding neurons in rats have been created at the University of Michigan. The findings could eventually lead to more effective treatment of neurological disorders such as Parkinson's disease and paralysis.

Neural electrodes must work for time periods ranging from hours to years. When the electrodes are implanted, the brain first reacts to the acute injury with an inflammatory response. Then the brain settles into a wound-healing, or chronic, response.

It's during this secondary response that brain tissue starts to encapsulate the electrode, cutting it off from communication with surrounding neurons.

The new brain implants developed at U-M are coated with nanotubes made of poly(3,4-ethylenedioxythiophene) (PEDOT), a biocompatible and electrically conductive polymer that has been shown to record neural signals better than conventional metal electrodes.

U-M researchers found that PEDOT nanotubes enhanced high-quality unit activity (signal-to-noise ratio >4) about 30 percent more than the uncoated sites. They also found that based on in vivo impedance data, PEDOT nanotubes might be used as a novel method for biosensing to indicate the transition between acute and chronic responses in brain tissue.

The results are featured in the cover article of the Oct. 5 issue of the journal Advanced Materials. The paper is titled, "Interfacing Conducting Polymer Nanotubes with the Central Nervous System: Chronic Neural Recording using Poly(3-4-ethylenedioxythiophene) Nanotubes."

"Microelectrodes implanted in the brain are increasingly being used to treat neurological disorders," said Mohammad Reza Abidian, a post-doctoral researcher working with Professor Daryl Kipke in the Neural Engineering Laboratory at the U-M Department of Biomedical Engineering.

"Moreover, these electrodes enable neuroprosthetic devices, which hold the
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Contact: Byron Roberts
byronr@umich.edu
734-647-7085
University of Michigan
Source:Eurekalert  

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