Injectrode to Better Treat Neurodegenerative Diseases


MADISON, Wisc. (Ivanhoe Newswire)— Neuromodulation therapies involve medical devices that can treat several chronic conditions, such as epilepsy, essential tremors, nerve pain, and even Afib. Many of these conditions require surgery, which can be costly and invasive, but what if instead of implanting a device, you could inject it without surgery? Injectrode

Pacemakers, spinal cord stimulators, and deep brain stimulators are all devices that require tiny electrodes to either be implanted in the brain, or the spinal cord, or peripheral nerves to deliver electrical stimulation for medical treatment.

“That’s essentially like taking your cell phone and sticking it in the body. And unfortunately, that is both very costly, but also has to last in the body for 30 years,” Kip Ludwig, PhD, associate professor at the University of Wisconsin, explained.

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When those devices fail, another surgery will be needed and that’s why researchers are looking at an alternative where clinicians would be able to inject an electrode without the need for surgery. The solution to this dilemma is called the Injectrode.

Andrew Shoffstal, PhD, assistant professor at Case Western Reserve University, said, “This electrically conductive ‘goo’, as we call it, could be injected into the body and it would form an electrically conductive interface with nerve tissue.”

“So instead of having a complex computer in the body that has to last 30 years, we actually make a connection from the surface of the skin to a deep nerve so we can talk to it with a non-invasive device,” Professor Ludwig added.

Thankfully, for patients, this means no surgery, fewer complications and failures, and lower costs. The researchers conducted a trial where the injectrode was implanted for 30 days in patients and found the Injectrode was able to communicate with the nervous system for the full time period with no adverse effects.

Professor Ludwig said that they got a grant from the National Institutes of Health to look at device-based alternatives to opioids when it comes to treating pain. Since the injectrode is non-invasive, their hope is to go through the FDA 510k or Denovo pathway for faster approval within the next two years.

Contributors to this news report include: Milvionne Chery Producer; Roque Correa, Editor.

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REPORT:       MB #5018

NEURODEGENERATIVE DISEASES BACKGROUND: Degenerative nerve diseases affect balance, movement, talking, breathing, and heart function. Many of these diseases are genetic; however, in some instances the cause can be a medical condition such as alcoholism, a tumor, or a stroke. Degenerative diseases include, Alzheimer’s disease, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, Friedreich ataxia, Huntington’s disease, Lewy body disease, Parkinson’s disease, and spinal muscular atrophy. These diseases can be serious or life-threatening and depending on the type, most have no cure. There are treatments that may improve symptoms, relieve pain or increase the patient’s mobility.


NEURODEGENERATIVE DISEASES DIAGNOSING: Changes in the neurons cause the cells to function abnormally; eventually the cells will diminish. The reason for this is the inability of the neurons to regenerate after neural deterioration or severe damage. Early detection of these diseases is key because they act quickly in deteriorating the cells. Diagnostic tests include neurofunctional imaging of the brain such as positron emission tomography (PET), magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), and nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy (NMRS).


NEW TECHNOLOGY: A new technology will make it easier to diagnose neurodegenerative diseases. By using a combination of optical coherence tomography (OCT) adaptive optics and deep neural networks, it should be easier to diagnose and monitor neuron-damaging eye and brain diseases like glaucoma. Duke University’s engineers led a multi-institution consortium to develop this method. It will precisely track changes in the number and shape of retinal ganglion cells in the eye. A recent technology called adaptive optics OCT (AO-OCT) enables imaging sensitive enough to view individual ganglion cells. This technology will minimize the effect of optical aberrations that occur when examining the eye, which are a major limiting factor in achieving high-resolution in OCT imaging.



Alex Holloway

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Doctor Q and A

Read the entire Doctor Q&A for Kip Ludwig, PhD, associate professor

Read the entire Q&A