Creating Biomedical Technologies to Improve Health

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SCIENCE EDUCATION

Bionic Man

  • Intro
    • The Bionic Man

      Browse a selection of technologies and interventions being developed by NIBIB supported researchers.

      These advancements may one day prevent, heal and cure injuries and diseases.

      [Click Model to Explore]

      Acknowledgements

  • Wireless Brain-Computer Interface
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      WIRELESS BRAIN-COMPUTER INTERFACE

      Wireless Brain-Computer InterfaceNext ▶

      The wireless brain-computer interface records and transmits brain activity wirelessly and could allow people with paralysis to use their thoughts to control robotic arms or other devices.

      This compact, implantable multichannel microsystem can record and transmit brain activity wirelessly. The device converts the brain’s electrical activity, detected by an implanted sensor, into digital signals that can be transmitted to a receiver. Batteries that power the system can be charged wirelessly. Such brain-computer interfaces that are capable of transmitting data from hundreds of channels could allow people who are paralyzed to use their thoughts to control robotic arms or other devices for everyday tasks. So far the device has been tested in animals. Read More.

  • Opening the Blood Brain Barrier with Ultrasound
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      OPENING THE BLOOD BRAIN BARRIER WITH ULTRASOUND

      Opening the Blood Brain Barrier with UltrasoundNext ▶

      Focused ultrasound could be used to temporarily open the blood brain barrier to let gene therapy treatments reach the brain.

      Focused ultrasound uses multiple transducers to produce sound waves that can penetrate the skull and temporarily open the blood-brain barrier (BBB) to allow delivery of siRNA. siRNA is small interference ribonucleic acid and is a potential gene therapy treatment for several diseases. Getting siRNA and other treatments past the BBB is an ongoing challenge. This work builds on earlier research that used focused ultrasound to open the BBB to deliver chemotherapy drugs to treat brain tumors. 

  • Flexible Electrodes Record Brain Activity
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      FLEXIBLE ELECTRODES RECORD BRAIN ACTIVITY

      Flexible Electrodes Record Brain's ActivityNext ▶

      Flexible electrode array records brain activity from the surface of the brain and could be used to control robotic arms or provide real-time information about brain states.

      This thin-film, flexible electrode array can be placed on the surface of the brain to record brain cell activity with high-resolution. The array has been used to control a 4 degree-of-freedom virtual robotic arm in real-time. Other uses could include providing real-time information about brain states to therapeutic devices. For example, upon sensing changes in brain activity associated with the onset of a seizure, the array could trigger a device that’s been implanted inside an epileptic patient’s brain to begin producing counter stimulation to stop the seizure in its tracks. The array could also be used to automatically modulate the output of deep brain stimulation devices based on changes in a patient’s brain activity. Watch a video.

  • Glucose-Sensing Contacts
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      GLUCOSE-SENSING CONTACTS

      Glucose-Sensing ContactsNext ▶

      Glucose-sensing contacts could provide a non-invasive solution for continuous blood sugar monitoring.

      Glucose sensing is essential for monitoring blood sugar levels in patients with diabetes, but current methods are invasive. Researchers are developing glucose-sensing contacts that can detect glucose levels in tear fluid. When glucose levels become dangerously high or low, the sensor within the lens changes color, alerting patients to potentially harmful blood sugar levels.

  • Tongue Drive System
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      TONGUE DRIVE SYSTEM

      Tongue Drive SystemNext ▶

      Tongue Drive System helps individuals with severe paralysis navigate their environment using only tongue movements.

      The Tongue Drive System (TDS) gives individuals with severe paralysis the ability to navigate their environment using only tongue movements. The system consists of a headset, a smartphone, and a tiny magnet attached to the tongue that, when moved around the mouth, sends commands to a target device in the user environment, such as a computer or TV. The TDS can be used to steer a wheelchair, operate a computer, and generally help paralyzed individuals control their environment in an independent fashion. Read more or Watch the Tongue Drive System in action during this TEDx talk.

  • Implantable Sensors for Prosthesis Control
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      IMPLANTABLE SENSORS FOR PROSTHESIS CONTROL

      Implantable Sensors for Prosthesis ControlNext ▶

      Implantable sensors detect nerve signals above a missing limb and can use these signals to move a prosthesis in a more natural way.

      Electrical activity often remains in the muscles and nerves directly above an amputated limb. It has long been a goal to use these natural signals to enhance the control of hand/arm prosthetics. Previously, multiple external sensors were stuck to the skin of the residual limb and a series of wires connected these sensors to a prosthesis controller. This setup had limited numbers of control sites and was cumbersome and susceptible to breakage. Now, researchers are developing novel myoelectric sensors that can be implanted directly into the muscle of the residual limb to create more control sites. These sensors wirelessly transmit intramuscular electrical signals to command a prosthesis to move in a more natural way. Read more.

  • Blood Clot Emulator
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      Blood Clot Emulator

      Improved Heart PumpNext ▶

      A blood clot emulator can be used to enhance ventricular assist devices to reduce the risk of blood clots. 

      A ventricular assist device (VAD) is a surgically implanted pump that augments the pumping action of a weak heart. A major downside of VADs is that they can cause thrombosis, which is the formation of a blood clot. Similar to wind tunnel testing in aerospace engineering, researchers have developed a “device thrombogenecity emulator” that combines advanced numerical simulations and experimental techniques to measure the formation of blood clots. Using this methodology, engineers have optimized an existing VAD pump that decreases the chances of platelets sticking together and creating a clot. The goal of the optimized device is to prevent the need for patients with VADs to take blood thinners, which can increase a person’s risk of hemorrhage. Click here to see animations of the device thrombogenecity emulator.

  • Spinal Stimulation for Paralysis
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      SPINAL STIMULATION FOR PARALYSIS

      Spinal Stimulation for ParalysisNext ▶

      Electrical stimulation of the spinal cord is being used in individuals with paralysis to help restore voluntary movement and other functions. 

      Epidural spinal stimulation is showing promise in treating people with severe spinal cord injury. In a recent study, four patients paralyzed below the chest were able to voluntarily move their toes, ankles, and legs while their spinal cords were being electrically stimulated. The spinal stimulation also helped to improve other functions such as blood pressure control, body temperature regulation, bladder control, and sexual function. Researchers are currently working to develop a new high-density, 27-electrode array stimulator to determine if it can provide finer, more robust control of locomotion.  Read about the most recent study.

  • Interstitial Pressure Sensor
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      INTERSTITIAL PRESSURE SENSOR

      Interstitial Pressure SensorNext ▶

      Interstitial pressure sensor could help doctors determine optimal times for delivering chemotherapy/radiation to cancer patients.

      This wireless, implantable sensor can be inserted in solid tumors to provide continuous measurements of interstitial fluid pressure (IFP). IFP is the extracellular fluid found within tissues. When high, IFP can impede the delivery of therapeutic drugs to tumors as well as decrease the efficiency of radiation and chemotherapy treatments. A sensor that detects IFP fluctuations could aid the development of IFP-lowering drugs and also reveal the best time to deliver treatments affected by IFP.

  • Artificial Kidney
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      ARTIFICIAL KIDNEY

      Artificial KidneyNext ▶

      An artificial kidney could be used in place of kidney dialysis for treatment of end-stage kidney disease.

      Researchers are developing an artificial kidney for patients suffering from kidney failure that performs many of the functions of the natural kidney, is surgically implantable, requires no tethers to machines outside the body, and requires no pumps or electrical power to operate. The self-regulating artificial kidney filters toxins from the blood through a silicon membrane and is driven by a patient’s normal blood flow. Human renal tubule cells are used in the device to mimic the endocrine and metabolic functions of the kidney. More info here.

  • Synthetic Tissue Adhesive
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      SYNTHETIC TISSUE ADHESIVE

      Synthetic Tissue AdhesiveNext ▶

      Synthetic glue modeled after an adhesive found in nature could be used to repair tissues in the body.

      Researchers are taking clues from sandcastle worms, tiny sea creatures native to California, to develop a new type of injectable adhesive that could be used to repair living tissues. The worm secretes a special glue that it uses to piece together shells and bits of sand to create its home. Because the glue can be applied under water and adheres to wet objects, researchers believe it would work similarly well on wet tissues inside the body. A synthetic glue based on the chemistry of the sandcastle worm adhesive has been developed and is currently being tested for sealing tears in the amniotic sac, but in the long term, may be used as a general tissue glue at many locations in the body. 

  • Microneedle Patch
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      MICRONEEDLE PATCH

      Microneedle PatchNext ▶

      This microneedle patch delivers vaccines painlessly and doesn’t require refrigeration.

      A microneedle patch is being developed that can deliver vaccines painlessly and that doesn’t require special disposal methods or refrigeration. The patch consists of an array of microneedles (each less than the width of a human hair) that penetrate the skin, but stop short of hitting any nerves. The patch could be especially helpful in rural communities that may not have many health care providers or adequate storage facilities for traditional, refrigerated medicines. Read more.

  • Cartilage Regeneration
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      CARTILAGE REGENERATION

      Cartilage RegenerationNext ▶

      A light sensitive biogel and biological adhesive help new cartilage grow and become functional.

      There’s new hope for patients with cartilage damage. Researchers are using a biogel that solidifies when exposed to light and a biological adhesive to create a scaffold that encourages growth of new cartilage as well as its integration into a patient’s existing tissue. The scaffold was recently successful in regenerating cartilage in a pilot clinical trial of patients undergoing microfracture surgery. Read more.

  • Robotic Leg Prosthesis
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      ROBOTIC LEG PROSTHESIS

      Robotic Leg ProsthesisNext ▶

      This powered robotic prosthesis senses a person’s next move and provides powered assistance to achieve a more natural gait.

      Researchers have developed a robotic lower leg prosthesis that has powered knee and ankle joints. Within several milliseconds, a combination of sensors and sophisticated software within the prosthesis help infer the action a user wants to perform and then translates this inference into power-driven action. The powered prosthesis reproduces many essential characteristics of healthy biomechanical walking that a traditional prosthesis does not. Read more or Watch a video.

 
 
Robotic Leg Prosthesis

Robotic Leg Prosthesis

This powered robotic prosthesis senses a person’s next move and provides powered assistance to achieve a more natural gait.

Explore ▶

Cartilage Regeneration

Cartilage Regeneration

A light sensitive biogel and biological adhesive help new cartilage grow and become functional.

Explore ▶

Improved Heart Pump

Blood Clot Emulator

A blood clot emulator can be used to optimize ventricular assist devices to reduce the risk of blood clots.

Explore ▶

Artificial Kidney

Artificial Kidney

An artificial kidney could be used in place of kidney dialysis for treatment of end-stage kidney disease.

Explore ▶

Microneedle Patch

Microneedle Patch

This microneedle patch delivers vaccines painlessly and doesn’t require refrigeration.

Explore ▶

Interstitial Pressure Sensor

Interstitial Pressure Sensor

Interstitial pressure sensor could help doctors determine optimal times for delivering chemotherapy/radiation to cancer patients.

Explore ▶

Glucose-Sensing Contacts

Glucose-Sensing Contacts

Glucose-sensing contacts could provide a non-invasive solution for continuous blood sugar monitoring.

Explore ▶

Tongue Drive System

Tongue Drive System

Tongue Drive System helps individuals with severe paralysis navigate their environment using only tongue movements.

Explore ▶

Wireless Brain-Computer Interface

Wireless Brain-Computer Interface

The wireless brain-computer interface records and transmits brain activity wirelessly and could allow people with paralysis to use their thoughts to control robotic arms or other devices.

Explore ▶

Implantable Sensors for Prosthesis Control

Implantable Sensors for Prosthesis Control

Implantable myoelectric sensors detect nerve signals above a missing limb and can use these signals to move a prosthesis in a more natural way.

Explore ▶

Synthetic Tissue Adhesive

Synthetic Tissue Adhesive

A synthetic glue modeled after an adhesive found in nature could be used to repair tissues in the body.

Explore ▶

Opening the Blood Brain Barrier with Ultrasound

Opening the Blood Brain Barrier with Ultrasound

Focused ultrasound could be used to temporarily open the blood brain barrier to let gene therapy treatments reach the brain.

Explore ▶

Flexible Electrodes Record Brain’s Activity

Flexible Electrodes Record Brain’s Activity

Flexible electrode array records brain activity from the surface of the brain and could be used to control robotic arms or provide real-time information about brain states.

Explore ▶

Spinal Stimulation for Paralysis

Spinal Stimulation for Paralysis

Electrical stimulation of the spinal cord is being used in individuals with paralysis to help restore voluntary movement and other functions. 

Explore ▶