Can you treat pain without drugs? A new way to deliver Neurostimulation therapy for people with conditions like chronic pain, depression and Parkinson’s disease is being developed at the Tyndall National Institute by the Irish Photonic Integration Centre (IPIC).
IPIC says it has developed new “light technology for Belgium-based Synergia Medical”. The treatment will benefit patients suffering from chronic pain, Parkinson’s disease, drug-resistant epilepsy, sleep apnoea and depression.
How does it work?
In lay man’s terms, a pacemaker-like device is implanted below the skin and electrodes are placed around the target nerve tissue. Controlled electrical pulses, using light, are delivered to the nerve tissue to manage neurological conditions.
Or, as Brian Corbett from IPIC explains: “The science behind the technology is an optical ‘power lead’ utilising an efficient miniaturised photovoltaic cell subsystem that enables light to be transmitted from a neurostimulator embedded in the body to an electrode, where it converts the light to electricity that then powers the electrode. This replaces metal cables and thereby makes the system MRI compatible.”
Neurostimulation but in a new way
Neurostimulation therapy does work, and the market is estimated to be worth approximately $5 billion.
What’s interesting here is that IPIC has developed a first of kind technology with Synergia Medical to replace the metal cables running from the battery to the stimulator.
Instead of cables, light is used to deliver the power creating a new and versatile neural stimulation technology platform.
This use of light will ultimately pave the way to new personalised therapies, says IPIC.
First-generation prototypes were developed using the semiconductor fabrication facilities at Tyndall.
The prototypes have been licensed to Synergia, which is advancing towards future clinical trials.
Tyndall is a leading European research centre in integrated ICT (Information and Communications Technology) materials, devices and systems. It is one of Ireland’s five National Labs, specialising in both electronics and photonics. Tyndall works with industry and academia to transform research into products in its core market areas of electronics, communications, energy, health, agri-tech and the environment. With a network of over 200 industry partners and customers worldwide, Tyndall is focused on delivering human and economic impact from excellence in research. A research flagship of University College Cork, Tyndall is home to a research community of 600 people of 52 nationalities. www.tyndall.ie.