Carbon-based Biointerface Initiative Offers Promise Of Replacing Sensory Function.

“We concentrate on developing new carbon-based biointerfaces, which are accepted more readily by living tissue and also cause fewer problems due to biological fouling, that is bacterial contamination”

In short

A fascinating new article from News-Medical.net talks about a multicentre project to find a way of replacing sensory cells such as those in the eye or ear, with implanted technological devices. The 12 centre initiative, tagged the Neurocare Project, formally began on March 1st and has the specific goal of finding an interface between “sensing” medical technology and human tissue.

Background 

Despite years of research on implants to address loss of basic cognitive abilities, one of the greatest challenges yet to be addressed in replacing damaged sensory functionality with medical technology lies at the interface between a potential implant and human tissue. According to this article, scientists from Forschungszentrum Jülich and eleven other institutions involved in the NeuroCare project will develop novel biointerfaces made of carbon.

Apparently, the difficultly lies in connecting living tissue and electric circuits, with flexible cell structures containing water on one side and rigid solid electrodes on the other side. NeuroCare is using materials based on carbon, in a departure from silicon or metals, which have been conventionally thought to be materials of choice. Carbon-based materials have the advantage of being inexpensive, inert, robust and electrically adaptable to varying demands, from conducting to insulating.

The project is coordinated by the French Commissariat à l’Energie Atomique et aux Energies Alternatives (CEA) and aims to produce prototypes of retinal, cortical and cochlear implants, which will then be refined until they can be brought to the market within ten years.

Researcher comments

“We concentrate on developing new carbon-based biointerfaces, which are accepted more readily by living tissue and also cause fewer problems due to biological fouling, that is bacterial contamination,” says Prof. Andreas Offenhäusser, head of Bioelectronics at the Institute of Complex Systems (ICS-8) and the Peter Grünberg Institute (PGI-8) of Forschungszentrum Jülich.

Source: news-medical.net, Forschungszentrum Juelich