Researchers at the University of Glasgow are working as part of an international project called CROSSBRAIN, with the aim of developing small injectable robots capable of mitigating and predicting epileptic seizures.
Over the next four years, the project will see the development of these implantable microbots, approximately a tenth of a millimetre in measurement and created from “advanced nanomaterials with specially-tailored physical properties.” It is led by Tor Vergata University of Rome and will be funded by the European Innovation Council.
Once the microbots have been implanted in the brain, they will be controlled through a wearable control unit which can monitor electrical activity. It is hoped that they will be able to detect the onset of a seizure and regulate the effect with targeted neurostimulation.
Professor Hadi Heidari from the University of Glasgow is leading the UK contribution to CROSSBRAIN. Professor Heidari’s Microelectronics Lab “conducts pioneering research on integrated micro and nanoelectronics design for medical and industrial applications,” the university states. In this project, the lab is to help design and deliver the microbots’ wireless power, data management and delivery systems.
Professor Heidari said: “CROSSBRAIN brings together leading researchers from across Europe, with a wide range of expertise in bioengineering, artificial intelligence, nanomaterial design and fabrication, and medical physics. I’m looking forward to collaborating with my colleagues to develop this exciting technology in the years to come.”
CROSSBRAIN’s principal investigator, Professor Nicola Toschi from the Tor Vergata University of Rome, commented: “It is widely known that many pathological brain conditions directly involve aberrant electrical activity of the brain, such as, epileptic seizures or panic disorders.
“In such conditions, timely recognition and prompt intervention are essential to begin effective periodic and adaptive treatment. However, the technologies available to guide and modulate brain activity in a precise and selective way for therapeutic purposes are severely limited to date, considerably reducing the therapeutic options. The CROSSBRAIN project aims to create radically new neurostimulation strategies and devices in the field of precision medicine with a key role in the predictive management of brain diseases.”
Other CROSSBRAIN collaborators include SISSA International School of Advanced Studies of Trieste in Italy; Percuros BV in The Netherlands; NaMLab in Germany; FAU Friedrich Alexander Universitaet in Germany; CIC Associacion Centro de Investigacion Cooperativa en Biomateriales in Spain; IIT Italian Institute of Technology Foundation in Italy; and the CSIC Agencia estatal consejo superior de investigaciones cientificas in Spain.