The MouseFlex electrode made by WVU researchers will advance tests of vagus nerve stimulation, a chopping-edge bioelectronic treatment for circumstances that assortment from epilepsy to arthritis to hypertension. Listed here Justin Vankirk, a doctoral prospect in mechanical and aerospace engineering, releases microfabricated MouseFlex electrodes from a silicon wafer and solder-integrates potential customers to the system for electrochemical testing.
(WVU Photo/Paige Nesbit)
West Virginia University engineers are using a key step into
“bioelectronic medication,” a chopping-edge approach that uses electric existing as
a treatment for ache and sickness, with the improvement of MouseFlex. The unit
will aid investigation into a technique referred to as “vagus nerve stimulation” or
The vagus nerve is dependable for involuntary body capabilities this kind of as heart
amount, respiration and digestion.
Mainly because VNS trials on mice will have to come about before new
bioelectronic treatment plans can be tested on humans, the MouseFlex — a small
electrode that has been shaped into a cuff condition, like the cuff of a shirt
sleeve — matches all over the vagus nerve of a mouse and provides electrical
According to its developers, the MouseFlex outperforms present technologies when
it comes to withstanding both of those the electric powered recent flowing by way of it and the
managing it sustains during the course of surgery.
Biomedical engineer Tao Sunshine,
a investigate assistant professor at the Benjamin
M. Statler University of Engineering and Mineral Methods, claimed the MouseFlex
not only allows far more successful rodent trials of VNS treatment options, but its design and style
could be tailored for people.
“This investigation is vital due to the fact our flexible electrodes
continue being functional soon after electrical stimulation,” Sunshine stated. “They attain
personal get hold of with the mouse vagus nerve and they tolerate surgical
managing. The MouseFlex will straight away gain neuroscientists and
scientists in neural engineering, but sufferers with drug-resistant illness are
the extensive-length beneficiaries.”
The review success surface in the journal Acta
stimulation is made use of for clients with situations these kinds of as drug-resistant
epilepsy,” stated Loren
Rieth, associate professor in the Department
of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering. “VNS equipment handle individuals
ailments by stimulating the remaining vagus nerve in the neck, modifying nerve
signals that coordinate the function of the body’s organ devices. The vagus
nerve back links your brain to organs these kinds of as the coronary heart, lungs or belly. The name
‘vagus’ refers to ‘the wanderer,’ as the nerve branches and spreads to connect
all those organs with your mind.”
Rieth stated human vagus nerve branches in the neck “are about
a 10th of an inch in diameter and have around 100,000 nerve fibers. Cooked
spaghetti is a fantastic analogy for the size and ‘softness’ of the vagus nerve in
people, but our study deals with the vagus nerve in mice, which is 20 moments
smaller: the diameter of a thick strand of hair. The MouseFlex electrodes that
in shape all-around that nerve are about 10 instances thinner than a human hair.”
Due to the smaller sizing of the two the mouse vagus nerve and the
electrodes, it has been tough to interface with the nerve and difficult
for the electrodes to stay secure all over the system of electrical
Solar explained he was shocked by how nicely the MouseFlex fulfilled
those people worries.
“Robustness of electrodes on this degree is rare and pretty
thrilling,” he reported. “All MouseFlex electrodes remained functional immediately after one particular
billion cycles of electrical stimulation at 8 milliamps — the most
intense electrical stimulation I’ve witnessed to day in peer investigation.
“After we carried out the surgical procedures, then eliminated the electrodes
and cleaned them, the electrochemical effectiveness mainly reversed to the degree
it had before the surgery, which usually means that these electrodes do tolerate
surgical handling. That’s pretty essential for clinical research and for
Rieth estimated that around 125,000 men and women all-around the world
have VNS stimulators for epilepsy or depression. Nevertheless, a new affliction currently being
evaluated for VNS treatment method is rheumatoid arthritis, an autoimmune ailment in
which the immune technique assaults the body’s joints. 1 enterprise — SetPoint
Health care — is conducting a multicenter medical trial on VNS to handle rheumatoid
arthritis, and Dr. Peter
Konrad, chair of the WVU University of
Drugs Division of
Neurosurgery inside the Rockefeller
Neuroscience Institute, is leading a person of the scientific trial websites at Health and fitness Sciences.
“If procedure for autoimmune ailments like rheumatoid
arthritis is effective and units are accepted for that purpose, then the quantity of
VNS clients will very likely enhance appreciably,” Rieth predicted, pointing to
other widespread health care ailments with the likely to reply to
bioelectronic procedure, which include reactive airway disorder and heart sickness.
“VNS systems don’t have key protection issues,” he reported.
“The surgical procedure to place the electrode and stimulator does have hazards, but
neurosurgeons observe nicely-proven methods. There can be aspect outcomes
these types of as voice alterations from stimulation, which for epilepsy comes about just about every handful of
minutes, but these hardly ever call for turning off the stimulator. Of study course, new
remedies could possibly have distinctive protection issues, and that is a critical part of
the Foodstuff and Drug Administration’s review system.”
Sunlight observed numerous added ailments for which vagus
nerve stimulation utilizing adaptable electrodes like the MouseFlex shows promise:
depression, being overweight and large blood force, also regarded as hypertension.
“For a lot of drug-resistant sufferers, responsible and protected vagus
nerve modulation opens new avenues to helpful remedies with several or no aspect
consequences,” Sun said. “And our MouseFlex technology could also interface with
nerves apart from the vagus nerve — the sciatic and sacral nerves and the spinal
cord, for instance. Stimulating the spinal cord is productive for managing
persistent suffering and could restore misplaced movement capacity for paralyzed sufferers.”
Editor’s take note: The protocols for the in-vivo study
regarding stimulation basic safety and efficacy of MouseFlex electrodes were accredited
by the Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee (IACUC) at the Feinstein
Institutes for Medical Investigation (Manhasset, NY, United states). The Feinstein Institutes
comply with the National Institute of Health and fitness (NIH) pointers for the moral
cure of animals.
MEDIA Make contact with: Micaela Morrissette
WVU Research Communications
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WVU Statler Faculty of Engineering and Mineral Resources
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