Korean Scientists Create Neural User interface Capable of Delivering Drugs Distantly to the Brain

Ua-advanced interface can monitor brain, deliver drugs

Researchers in South Korea have created a new durable neural interface that can measure human brain signals direct inside the mind itself.

The interface is really advanced that it can even be used to deliver drugs at the site to ensure that the interface is just not responsible for causing inflammation.

Although the potential apps to improve people’s lives are extremely promising, the technology also has disquieting implications.

Accurately measuring brain activity has been an essential part of getting a better understanding of the way the brain works and how it is impacted by disease. Up to the present, brain activity has generally already been measured by placing electrodes on the scalp (generally referred to as electroencephalography (EEG)).

Of course , researchers have lengthy known that getting signals directly from the brain would most likely be more accurate, and could better our understanding of the brain, but making neural interfaces to get this done has proven remarkably hard up to the present.

For example , the materials used to make the microscopic electrodes which make contact with the neurons, in addition to those of all connectors, would have to be flexible yet durable enough to withstand a relatively harsh environment in the body. Previous efforts at developing long-lasting human brain interfaces have failed due to the natural biological responses from the body, such as inflammation, which usually reduce the electrical performance of the electrodes over time.

The South Korean group, publishing their research in  Microsystems & Nanoengineering , decided to investigate whether there was some way to administer drugs locally to lessen inflammation at the site in which the electrodes meet the brain.

Unlike existing firm devices, their design has a flexible structure in which a range of microneedles is used to gather multiple neural signals over the, and thin metallic conductive lines carry these signals to an external circuit.

The defining aspect of this design is the method that it incorporates channels that can carry fluids on a plane parallel to the conductive lines. These channels, built by strategically stacking and micromachining multiple polymer layers, are usually connected to a small reservoir (which contains the drugs to be administered) and can carry a steady circulation of liquid toward the particular microneedles.

The team tested their technique through brain interface tests on live rats. After implanting the interfaces, these people measured the drug focus in the tissue around the fine needles.

Prof. Sohee Kim, who led the study,   said : “ The flexibility and functionalities of our device will help make it more compatible with biological cells and decrease adverse effects, all of which lead to increasing the lifespan of the neural interface. ”

Another of the participants explains the potential uses for this new neural technology, which include enabling “ paralyzed individuals to move robotic arms or legs using their thoughts, and for treating neurological diseases using electrical and/or chemical stimulation over years. ”

At the same time, the potential problems about implantable technology that can administer medicines unbeknownst to the user, should be obvious.

Recently we furthermore reported on a  similar technology developed on the University of Dresden . Scientists there have developed ‘ bio-compatible implantable AI platform’ that could  pave the way for real-time supervising of people’s health.  

Clearly, because the frontiers of medicine carry on and expand in ever more invasive ways, what it means to be human, to possess free will and have the right to autonomy plus privacy are all likely to get question.

The particular predictions of science-fiction authors like Philip K Cock look more and more prescient by the day.

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