The researchers have come up with an exciting innovation in order to treat chronic diseases. Will it be successful?
FREMONT, CA: With new diseases emerging every day, such as coronavirus, it has become even more vital for scientists to devise new techniques for diagnosing dangerous plagues and diseases.
Recently, an injectable flexible electrode has been developed by researchers that can assist the clinicians in neuromodulation therapy by potentially replacing rigid electrodes that are unable to mesh well with soft tissues. The injectable material comprises a silicone gel and small metal particles. When injected around a target nerve, it forms a flexible bolus. Later the nerve is electrically stimulated from the skin’s surface by using a basic transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS) unit. The approach can lay a pathway for impactful neuromodulation therapy for a significant variety of diseases.
In neuromodulation, the neurons present in the body are stimulated for producing a therapeutic effect. Hence, it holds a significant potential for many diseases and situations, which includes epileptic seizures, chronic pain, and depression. Nevertheless, one of the biggest roadblocks in obtaining this is the expense and limitation of existing implantable devices intended to stimulate neurons. These include costly implantable devices that are hard to insert in the body. Additionally, these kinds of devices are rigid and therefore are not compatible with the tissues that are implanted inside the body.
Therefore, a low-cost implantable device as an alternative to conventional implantable neuromodulation devices has been developed. This comprises an injectable liquid, which forms a semi-solid bolus close to a nerve.
The injectable gel is based on silicone, and it includes metal particles in order to be electrically conductive. By injecting that material around a nerve and later up to the surface of the body, beneath the skin, the scientists can make use of a common TENS device for stimulating deep nerves from the surface.
Till now, the scientists have utilized the system for stimulating the vagus nerve in pigs and were successful in changing their heart rate. This suggests that the material may hold the potential in helping to diagnose cardiac problems like arrhythmias, heart failure, and hypertension.