Brian Litt, Penn Epilepsy Center
Engineering the Next Generation of Neurodevices—New Materials and Clinical Translation
Written by Hortense Le Ferrand
Innovation in materials science can help clinicians in many ways. As an example, Brian Litt from the Penn Epilepsy Center introduced the case of an epileptic patient suffering from regular seizures. By implanting four electrodes into the brain of the patient, the clinicians could determine where abnormal activity occurs and locally ablate those areas. This is the technology used to treat epilepsy for the past 20 years and still used today. As a result, the patient had less intense seizures, but still some epileptic symptoms remain.
Litt described several areas where materials researchers can work together with medical doctors to improve the therapy and treat the patient. First, decreasing the size of the electrodes and improving their biocompatibility would reduce the inflammatory response post-implantation and the tissue damage. Second, increasing the number of electrodes to a reasonable amount could allow a more accurate detection of the epileptic network location. Third, development of a cloud-based system to collect, compute, and interpret the data from the electrodes is also needed.
If there is a lot of progress and innovation in the fabrication of multiple channels electrodes and biocompatible materials, there is still a significant gap between the research and the concrete applications. Litt emphasizes with this example the need for collaborations to achieve translational applications.