Soft arrays of miniature electrodes for improved Parkinson’s treatment

February 19, 2013

Miniature, tltra-flexible electrode (credit: EPFL)

Miniature, ultra-flexible electrodes could be the answer to more successful treatment for Parkinson’s diseases, according to Professor Philippe Renaud of the École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL) in Switzerland.

He has developed soft arrays of miniature electrodes in his Microsystems Laboratory that open new possibilities for more accurate and local deep brain stimulation (DBS).

Some 90,000 patients per year are treated for Parkinson’s disease, a number that is expected to rise by 25 percent annually. Deep Brain Stimulation (DBS), which consists of electrically stimulating the central or peripheral nervous system, is currently standard practice for treating Parkinson’s, but it can involve long, expensive surgeries with dramatic side effects.

At the 2013 Annual Meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) in Boston, in a symposium called “Engineering the Nervous System: Solutions to Restore Sight, Hearing, and Mobility,” he announced the start of clinical trials and early, but promising results in patients, and described new developments in ultra-flexible electronics that can conform to the contours of the brainstem for treating other disorders.

He also said ultra-flexible electronics could lead to the auditory implants of the future and the restoration of hearing. “Although deep brain stimulation has been used for the past two decades, we see little progress in its clinical outcomes,” Renaud says. “Microelectrodes have the potential to open new therapeutic routes, with more efficiency and fewer side effects through a much better and finer control of electrical activation zones.”

The preliminary clinical trials related to this research are being done in conjunction with EPFL spin-off company Aleva Neurotherapeutics, the first company in the world to introduce microelectrodes in deep brain stimulation, leading to more precise directional stimulation.