Scalable, Controlled Optogenetics Treatment impLAntbles for Neurological Disorders
(December 2020 - November 2022)
This Fellowship aims to create novel wireless, scalable, and bio-integrated neural implants for optogenetics to treat neurological disorders such as epilepsy.
Neurological disorders such as epilepsy, migraines, Parkinsons and Alzheimers affect one billion people worldwide and account for 12% of all deaths. Optical, electrical and chemical neural implant technologies will be a key tool in at the very least mitigating the symptoms of, or even curing these debilitating diseases.
 World Health Organisation - Public Health Challenges - Neurological Disorders
Optogenetics is a neural modulation technique which utilizes light to stimulate genetically engineered neurons in the brain, providing a more precise alternative for neuronal control compared to conventional electrical stimulation. It was named "method of the year" by Nature Methods in 2010 and decribed as "breakthrough of the decade" by the journal Science in the same year.
Scientists pursuing optogenetic therapies still face some technical challenges (e.g. size and multifunctional capability, biointegration, wireless capability, Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) compatibility that keeping optogenetics from clinical trials for brain diseases. This Fellowship will combine small, low power, efficient LEDs with innovative wireless power transfer technology (WiseCURE) and ultrathin, soft and flexible biocompatible polymeric platforms (HERMES) to fabricate and characterize neural implants that are small enough to promote scalability, chronic reliability, and MRI compatibility.
- Carry out testing to optimise the interactions between light and rhodopsins;
- Design, fabricate and develop a novel InGaN multiple quantum well (MQW) µLED array implantable device on flexible biocompatible polymers;
- Implement wirelessly-powered and bio-integrated neural optical stimulation as well as encapsulating the device with novel poly(ethyl acrylate) bioactive polymer to enable chronic in vivo optogenetics.
RESULTS & OUTREACH
We are beginning to publish some of the great work from the HERMES project, for example, Vahid's simulations on mitigating device failure in neural implants: https://ieeexplore.ieee.org/abstract/document/9180497.
Stay tuned for more!
FINLAY WALTON (EPSRC Doctoral Prize Research Fellow) https://orcid.org/0000-0002-4739-1649
I am a materials scientist and hold a PhD in Chemical Physics from the University of Glasgow. I specialise in nanofabrication, manipulation of matter using light and electric fields and implantable devices. My research as an EPSRC Doctoral Prize Research Fellow involves designing, fabricating and developing state of the art light sources for Optogenetics, which will be integrated into a wirelessly powered, biocompatible implantable device in collaboration with my outstanding partners from the WiseCURE and HERMES projects. Optogenetics has huge potential for the treatment of neurological disorders such as epilepsy, but several engineering hurdles remain, which we will be addressing during this project.
RUPAM DAS (Marie Skłodowska-Curie Fellow)
I am a Biomedical engineer with a strong background in biomedical implantable devices and electromagnetic theories. I hold a MSc and a PhD in Electrical Engineering, received from the University of Ulsan, South Korea. My current research focuses on the development of wireless neural implants.
My futuristic vision is to integrate the wireless neuromodulating system into smart healthcare using mobile and electronic technology for betterdiagnosis of the brain diseases, improved treatment, and enhanced quality of lives.
HADI HEIDARI (Mentor)
I am an engineer and I hold a PhD in Microelectronics. My research is motivated by the potential of technology for diagnosis and treatment of neurological disorders. I have a strong expertise in wearable and implantable microelectronic devices acquired both in academia and industry.
I lead the Microelectronics lab at the University of Glasgow, where we focus on miniaturizing devices for implantable microelectronics and on neural interfaces.
SANDY COCHRAN (Mentor)
Prof. Cochran’s research focuses on materials and systems to apply ultrasound principally in medicine and life sciences. His lab is the only one in the UK dedicated to medical ultrasound materials and systems, and one of only a handful like it in the world. Topics of particular interest are:New piezoelectric materials and better utilisation of existing materials, miniature devices for clinical applications of high resolution ultrasound imaging, focused ultrasound surgery and ultrasound-targeted drug delivery, ultrasound for transmission beamforming and manipulation of cells and particles, miniature and microscale ultrasound systems for biomedical applications and ultrasound and other techniques for sensing in the body.
JOHN RIDDELL (Neuroscientist)
Sensory and motor processing mechanism in the spinal cord, mechanisms of neuropathic pain, and plasticity and regeneration following spinal cord injury. Spinal interneuronal circuits controlling movement. Regeneration in the spinal cord. Sensory processing and the mechanisms of pain.
GIULIA CURIA (Neurobiologist)
I hold a MSc in Biological Sciences and a PhD in General Physiology. After several years of international experience, I returned to Italy and established myself at UNIMORE thanks to the program "Rientro dei Cervelli". I have a strong background in epilepsy research, by means of in vitro and in vivo electrophysiology, built across 20 years of national and international experience.
EVE McGLYNN (Collaborator)
I graduated from the University of Glasgow in 2019 with an MEng in Electronics and Electrical Engineering. My experience is in antenna design, and I have a keen interest in electromagnetics.
Currently, I am involved in the fabrication and encapsulation of implantable neural probes for recording and brain stimulation.
- Deisseroth, K. "Optogenetics". Nat Methods 8, 26–29 (2011). https://doi.org/10.1038/nmeth.f.324
- R. Das, A. Basir and H. Yoo, "A Metamaterial-Coupled Wireless Power Transfer System Based on Cubic High-Dielectric Resonators," in IEEE Transactions on Industrial Electronics, vol. 66, no. 9, pp. 7397-7406, Sept. 2019, doi: 10.1109/TIE.2018.2879310.
- R. Das, F. Moradi and H. Heidari, "Biointegrated and Wirelessly Powered Implantable Brain Devices: A Review," in IEEE Transactions on Biomedical Circuits and Systems, vol. 14, no. 2, pp. 343-358, April 2020, doi: 10.1109/TBCAS.2020.2966920.
- J. A. Rogers et al., "Stretchable multichannel antennas in soft wireless optoelectronic implants for optogenetics" PNAS (2016) 113 (50) E8169-E8177.
- J. S. Ho et al.,"Self-tracking energy transfer for neural stimulation in untethered mice" Phys. Rev. Applied 4, 024001, 2015