Experimental brain implant can suppress seizures ‘in 0.8 seconds’

Posted Feb 27 2014 in Other treatments

A team at Taiwan’s National Chiao Tung University (NCTU) have reportedly developed an experimental brain implant for people with epilepsy.

The chip, which to date has been tested in rodent brains, has a 92 per cent success rate and is capable of bringing seizures under control within 0.8 seconds, according to Taiwan Today.

It measures 0.3 cm by 0.5 cm – including a power source – and monitors electrical activity in the subject’s neuronal tissue, listening out for the abnormal electrical impulses that signal a seizure.

As soon as this unwanted activity begins, the implant sends a charge to counteract it and return neuronal firing to normal levels.

The researchers, who are led by former NCTU president Wu Chung-yu, have yet to test the device in human brains – but they believe clinical trials could begin as early as within the next three years.

According to Mr Wu, if the device turns out to be suitable for epilepsy therapy, it could help the estimated one-third of patients who do not respond to conventional, drug-based treatments – especially given it does not cost much to manufacture.

“The device is cheaper than a mobile handset to produce,” he commented. “This is great news for those whose epilepsy cannot be treated by drugs, as they will not have to undergo the risks of surgical intervention.”

Mr Wu’s colleague Ker Ming-dou, head of NCTU’s College of Photonics Engineering, said the chip had several advantages over existing implants used to combat the neurological condition.

He called it “the most effective [implant] in the world”, adding it could be controlled by an external device “such as a circuit board in a hatband” to facilitate recharging.

“It has lifelong endurance with no need for subsequent surgery to replace the battery,” he commented.

According to Mr Ker, the implant’s functionality could also eventually be expanded to treat other conditions such as Parkinson’s disease and depression.

Posted by Bob Jones

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