As part of a joint basic technology programme with members of the Nanoscience centre and Physics of Medicine we are developing a novel prosthesis for peripheral nerve repair.
Although axons can regenerate after injury to peripheral nerves, the axons grow randomly and connect with the wrong muscles and skin regions. The result is poor return of function, particularly when the nerve repair is far from the hand. In order to correct this problem, we are developing a device in which it will be possible to make electrical recordings from the regenerated nerve fibres, and this will be used to drive muscle stimulators to bring back correct muscle function.
The strategy we are using is to make the axons grow down microchannels, in which the electrical signal from action potentials is greatly amplified, making recording possible.
Lacour SP, Benmerah S, Tarte E, Fitzgerald J, Serra J, McMahon S, Fawcett J, Graudejus O, Yu Z, Morrison B, III (2010) Flexible and stretchable micro-electrodes for in vitro and in vivo neural interfaces. Med Biol Eng Comput 48:945-954.
FitzGerald JJ, Lacour SP, McMahon SB, Fawcett JW. Microchannel electrodes for recording and stimulation: in vitro evaluation. IEEE Trans Biomed Eng 2009; 56: 1524-1534.
Lacour SP, FitzGerald JJ, Lago N, Tarte E, McMahon S, Fawcett J. Long micro-channel electrode arrays: a novel type of regenerative peripheral nerve interface. IEEE Trans Neural Syst Rehabil Eng 2009; 17: 454-460.
FitzGerald JJ, Lacour SP, Fawcett JW. Recording with microchannel electrodes in a noisy environment. Conf Proc IEEE Eng Med Biol Soc 2008; 1: 34-37.
Lacour SP, Atta R, FitzGerald JJ, Blamire M, Tarte E, Fawcett J. Polyimide micro-channel arrays for peripheral nerve regenerative implants. Sensors and Actuators A-Physical 2008; 147: 456-463.
FitzGerald,J.J., Lacour,S.P., McMahon,S.B. & Fawcett,J.W. (2008) Microchannels as axonal amplifiers. IEEE Trans.Biomed.Eng, 55, 1136-1146.