Micro-channel electrode neural interfaces: restoring bladder control

Recording nervous signals from axons grown into very small channels hosting embedded electrodes amplifies the extracellular amplitude of action potentials, allowing for robust recording, noise suppression and more efficient stimulation.

In this project, this concept will be developed to restore bladder control first in an experimental rat model, and then in a clinical therapeutic veterinary model. The electrode interfaces will be implanted to record electrical activity from afferents, including those that encode bladder fullness and pressure. 

Two types of electrodes mounts will be developed. The more experimental one (to be used in the ratmodel) is a 3D array of closed channels through which the axons of a transected nerve regenerate while the more conservative mount does not require prior transection of the nerve. Instead the nerve will be teased into smaller strands each of which is laid in an open, U-shaped, channel. Those will be used to treat incontinent dogs suffering from spinal cord injury.

This project is ambitious as not only the non-regenerative and regenerative nerve interfaces but also their communication system will be fabricated and tested.

The IDG's involvement is dual:

  1. development of new micro-fabrication technologies for the non-regenerative mounts as well as interconnection methods for both types of electrodes.
  2. design and production of the electronics for recording and stimulation for the dog therapeutic implant.

This is a Basic Technology Translation Grant funded by the EPSRC, run by the Cambridge Centre for Brain Repair (University of Cambridge) in collaboration with us at UCL and the Engineering, the Physiology Development and Neuroscience and the Veterinary Medicine depts of the University of Cambridge.

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