An electronic device implanted directly into the brain can detect, stop and even prevent epileptic seizures.

In the study published in Science Advances, researchers at Cambridge’s department of engineering implanted the device into the brains of mice.

When the first signals of a seizure were detected, the device delivered a native brain chemical which stopped the seizure from progressing.

The study points to an advancement in the development of soft, flexible electronics that interface well with human tissue.

“These thin, organic films do minimal damage in the brain, and their electrical properties are well-suited for these types of applications,” said lead researcher, George Malliaras.

Epilepsy is most commonly treated with anti-epileptic drugs, but the drugs often have serious side effects and they do not prevent seizures in three out of 10 patients.

“In addition to be being able to control exactly when and how much drug is delivered, what is special about this approach is that the drugs come out of the device without any solvent,” said lead author, Christopher Proctor, a postdoctoral researcher in the department of engineering.

“This prevents damage to the surrounding tissue and allows the drugs to interact with the cells immediately outside the device.”

Although early results are positive, the researchers say potential treatment will not be available for humans for several years.



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