Swiss scientists develop soft brain implant

STORY: It fits through a tiny hole in the skull

and fans out to sit on the surface of the brain.

An electrode developed by Swiss scientists

to monitor brain activity in a safer and less invasive way.

[Stephanie Lacour / Neurotechnologist]

“We decided to work on this project because we had a request from a colleague neurosurgeon asking us to find ways to insert, implant at the surface of the brain in a minimally invasive manner, meaning that we should make the smallest hole possible in the skull in order to position the electrode on the surface of the brain.”

The work was inspired by a neurosurgeon who wanted to able

to connect a large area of the surface of the brain,

without removing the same amount of the patient’s skull.

The device has six arms and is folded inside a cylindrical capsule - called a loader.

It’s so small and so soft

that it can fit through a hole in the skull that’s less than half an inch in diameter.

The electrode is then deployed one arm at a time

quadrupling in diameter and maximizing contact with the cortex.

The soft material of the mechanism minimizes pressure on sensitive brain tissue.

"This is an example of the system when it is fully deployed. So you have to imagine that this sort of a flower shape is now sitting at the surface of the of the brain and this little vile that you have at the surface is a loading the structure where initially all of the petals are folded in.”

“The challenge was to find the right materials, so soft materials, and then materials that are electrically active. So we could make electrodes to record information from the brain which could sustain a large deformation.”

The soft electrode array could be used provide minimally invasive solutions for people like epilepsy patients.

The device will be able to record seizures -

And data collected from the device would in turn be used to inform treatment.

It’s already been successfully tested on a pig,

and is set for production by Swiss medical manufacturer Neurosoft Bioelectronics.