Microimplants should enable new therapies against common diseases

Scientists at the Fraunhofer Institute for Reliability and Microintegration (IZM) hope to use microimplants to electrically stimulate nerve cells in a targeted manner and thus treat chronic conditions such as asthma, diabetes or Parkinson’s disease.
“For some time now, research has been using the term “electro-ceutics” for such microimplants because miniaturized electronics are used instead of pharmaceutical products,” the institute stated.

New therapeutic approaches are imaginable for widespread chronic diseases. “The prerequisite is that their mechanisms of action can be specifically influenced by electrostimulation: Asthma, diabetes, Parkinson’s disease, migraine, rheumatism, high blood pressure – the list is long and the research potential enormous,” the scientists report.

“We cannot yet predict when the first clinical trials will be possible: We are currently developing suitable test models that will test the reliability of the implants throughout the entire process, and until then we are continuing to miniaturize and optimize the stimulators,” explains Vasiliki Giagka, group leader at IZM.
The goal of miniaturization is to achieve a total size of less than one cubic centimeter. The longevity of the microstimulators in particular is a challenge. After all, the implants should function reliably in the body for several decades.
In order to avoid rejection reactions of the body, the bioelectronic engineers around Giagka use biocompatible materials such as polymers, precious metals and silicon for the electronics.
Author(s)Source
hil/aerzteblatt.deDtsch Ärzteblatt, Feb 26, 2020 (german)
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