May 24, 2024

Researchers Launch Miniature Brain Stimulator

In a groundbreaking development, engineers at Rice University have unveiled the smallest implantable brain stimulator ever demonstrated in a human patient. This innovative device, known as the Digitally programmable Over-brain Therapeutic (DOT), is the result of collaboration between Rice University’s Jacob Robinson, Motif Neurotech, and clinicians Dr. Sameer Sheth and Dr. Sunil Sheth. Powered wirelessly using magnetoelectric technology, this pea-sized stimulator has the potential to transform the treatment of drug-resistant depression and various psychiatric and neurological disorders.

Unlike existing brain stimulation technologies that rely on bulky batteries and long wires, the DOT can be powered externally and stimulate the brain through the dura, the protective membrane attached to the skull. This eliminates the need for invasive surgeries to replace batteries or manage wire-related risks. The device can activate specific regions of the brain, such as the motor cortex, to induce movements or potentially improve executive functioning in individuals with depression or other disorders.

Joshua Woods, a lead author on the study, explains that the device’s magnetic-field-to-electrical-pulse conversion process is highly efficient at small scales, allowing for precise and effective stimulation without the need for complex alignment adjustments. With a width of only 9 millimeters, the implant demonstrates exceptional performance, delivering 14.5 volts of stimulation power.

Motif Neurotech, a startup founded by Jacob Robinson, is at the forefront of advancing this technology to market. The company envisions a future where individuals can self-administer brain stimulation treatments from the comfort of their homes, under the guidance of healthcare providers. The minimally invasive implantation procedure, which could be completed in just 30 minutes, offers a promising alternative to more invasive treatments like deep brain stimulation (DBS).

Robinson and his team are exploring the potential of networked implants that can personalize therapies based on individual brain activity. Motif Neurotech is working towards FDA approval for long-term clinical trials in humans, offering hope for patients with neurological and psychiatric disorders. The concept of adaptive personalized therapies using brain implants represents a significant step forward in mental health treatment.

As the field of neurotechnology continues to evolve, devices like the DOT hold immense promise for improving patient outcomes and expanding access to innovative therapies. By combining cutting-edge technology with a patient-centered approach, researchers aim to revolutionize the treatment landscape for individuals with a range of neurological and psychiatric conditions.

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1. Source: Coherent Market Insights, Public sources, Desk research
2. We have leveraged AI tools to mine information and compile it