Researchers have successfully demonstrated how an electronic device implanted directly into the brain can detect, stop and even prevent epileptic seizures.The researchers, from the University of Cambridge, the École Nationale Supérieure des Mines and INSERM in France, implanted the device into the brains of mice, and when the first signals of a seizure were detected, delivered a native brain chemical which stopped the seizure from progressing. The results, reported in the journal Science Advances, could also be applied to other conditions including brain tumours and Parkinson’s disease.
The work represents another advance in the development of soft, flexible electronics that interface well with human tissue. “These thin, organic films do minimal damage in the brain, and their electrical properties are well-suited for these types of applications,” said Professor George Malliaras, the Prince Philip Professor of Technology in Cambridge’s Department of Engineering, who led the research.
While there are many different types of seizures, in most patients with epilepsy, neurons in the brain start firing and signal to neighbouring neurons to fire as well, in a snowball effect that can affect consciousness or motor control. Epilepsy is most commonly treated with anti-epileptic drugs, but these drugs often have serious side effects and they do not prevent seizures in three out of 10 patients.