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Human induced pluripotent stem cells (hiPSCs) derived neurons cultured in hydrogel for three months with well aligned neurite and astrocyte extensions

Neurotechnology

About our research

Neurotechnology works directly with the body's own nervous system to both monitor physiological signals and modulate the activity, generally with a goal to alleviate disease symptoms. Examples of therapies enabled by neurotechnology include deep brain stimulation for Parkinson’s and epilepsy, spinal cord stimulation for chronic pain, and sacral nerve stimulation for incontinence. Despite clinical success in treating symptoms of diseases like Parkinson's, existing neurotechnology has several limitations such as invasiveness and complexity that arguably limit their clinical adoption.

To this end, our research explores new hardware and software platforms for investigating foundational clinical neuroscience and improved treatments for neurological disorders, using multiple physical and algorithmic approaches. To facilitate translation, we collaborate with industry and clinical partners on both tool development and proof-of-concept testing (see highlighted publications). We focus on neurotechnology that provides a high return on investment for the healthcare system, defined as the improvement in patient outcomes relative to the deployment cost. These prototypes often leverage established clinical pathways and commercial systems with a targeted technical upgrade enabling novel functionality. Examples include adding expanding the parameter space of non-invasive brain stimulators using ultrasound or magnetic fields, adding sensing and algorithm circuitry to implantable bioelectronic implants, and using ultrasound to help deliver pharmaceutical agents across the blood-brain barrier. The diversity of these therapeutic applications reflects both the breadth of neurological disorders, and the potential of neurotechnology to address them.

Our research areas

Bioelectronic Medicines

The microelectronic basis and digital programmability of bioelectronic systems means that there is huge potential for flexibility in both research and future medical device design. Emerging technology offers the possibility of building restorative neural systems, which are adaptable and programmable for various diseases, as well as specifically for individuals.

 

 

Image provided by Bioinduction Ltd

Non-invasive brain stimulation using transcranial magnetic stimulation

"Digital" Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation

We are co-developing with industry partners and colleagues in Engineering Science (Electrical Panel) a new method for delivering non-invasive brain stimulation using transcranial magnetic stimulation. We are developing megawatt peak power amplifiers that allow synthesis of novel pulseshapes and patterns to modulate brain activity.

Simulation of an ultrasound field showing the ability to target the subthalamic nucleus in the brain

Transcranial Ultrasound Stimulation

Transcranial Ultrasound Stimulation (TUS) is emerging as an exciting new tool for non-invasive neuromodulation due to its high spatial resolution and the potential to target deep brain structures.

Neurovascular Assessment

Neurovascular Assessment

Neurovascular dysfunction is commonly associated with a number of neurological conditions from dementia and stroke to cancer. In order to develop interventions to address the impact of this it is essential to be able to localise and quantify the deficits, and to assess the efficacy of novel treatments.

Simulation of an ultrasound field showing the ability to target the subthalamic nucleus in the brain

Learning and Neurofeedback Technologies

Neurofeedback is an integral part of many strategies in clinical neuroengineering, such as closed-loop control and active methods to get participants to explicitly control their own brain activity. By considering these processes together, we can understand and design optimised closed-loop interventions for a broad variety of applications.

Neuron cells interact with ion track etched polycarbonate membrane

Neural Tissue Engineering

The development of human neural tissue models has been a strong focus within the Oxford Centre for Tissue Engineering and Bioprocessing (OCTEB). The group specialises in developing suitable biomaterials as scaffolds and culture techniques to support 3D neuronal cell culture.

Magnetic resonance images of a mouse brain before and after low intensity ultrasound exposure. Opening of the blood brain barrier can be seen in the regions where microbubbles are present.

Drug Delivery to the Brain

The blood-brain barrier (BBB) continues to represent one of the most significant challenges for successful drug delivery in the treatment of neurological disease.