Revolutionary graphene interfaces aim to transform neuroscience

A breakthrough study presents an innovative graphene-based neurotechnology developed by ICN2 and partners, with the potential for major advances in neuroscience and therapeutic applications. (Artist's concept.) Credit:

Leader Graphene The neurotechnology developed by ICN2 and its collaborators promises transformative advances in neuroscience and medical applications, demonstrating high-precision neural interfaces and targeted neuromodulation.

Study published in Nature nanotechnology Presents an innovative graphene-based neurotechnology with the potential to have a transformative impact in neuroscience and medical applications. This research, led by the Catalan Institute of Nanoscience and Nanotechnology (ICN2) in collaboration with the Autonomous University of Barcelona (UAB) and other national and international partners, is currently being developed for therapeutic applications through the spin-off company INBRAIN Neuroelectronics.

Key features of graphene technology

After years of research within the framework of the European Graphene Pioneer Project, ICN2 in collaboration with the University of Manchester has led the development of EGNITE (Engineered Graphene for Neural Interfaces), a new class of flexible, high-resolution, graphene-based implantable neural technology. . The results were recently published in Nature neurotechnology It aims to contribute innovative technologies to the thriving landscape of neuroelectronics and brain-computer interfaces.

EGNITE relies on the extensive experience of its inventors in the manufacturing and medical translation of carbon nanomaterials. This innovative graphene nanopore-based technology integrates standard manufacturing processes in the semiconductor industry to assemble graphene microelectrodes with a diameter of only 25 micrometers. Graphene microelectrodes exhibit low resistance and high charge injection, which are essential features for flexible and efficient neural interfaces.

Preclinical function validation

Preclinical studies conducted by multiple neuroscience and biomedical experts partnered with ICN2, using different models of both the central and peripheral nervous systems, have demonstrated the ability of EGNITE to record high-resolution neural signals with exceptional clarity and precision and, most importantly, provide a high degree of targeting. . Nerve modification. The unique combination of high-resolution signal recording and precise neural stimulation provided by EGNITE technology represents a potentially critical advance in neuroelectronic therapeutics.

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This innovative approach addresses a critical gap in neurotechnology, which has not seen significant advances in materials over the past two decades. The development of EGNITE electrodes has the potential to place graphene at the forefront of neurotechnological materials.

International cooperation and scientific leadership

The technology presented today builds on the legacy of the Graphene Flagship, a European initiative that over the past decade has sought to strengthen European strategic leadership in technologies based on graphene and other 2D materials. Behind this scientific breakthrough is a collaborative effort led by ICN2 researchers Damia Viana (now at INBRAIN Neuroelectronics) and Steven T. Walston (now at the University of Southern California), and Eduard Masvidal Codina, under the supervision of ICREA's José A. Garrido. ICN2 leader Advanced electronic materials and devices Group, and ICREA Costas Costarellos, leader of ICN2 Nanomedicine laboratory and the School of Biology, Medicine and Health at the University of Manchester (United Kingdom). Xavier Navarro, Natàlia de la Oliva, Bruno Rodríguez-Meana and Jaume del Valle, from the Institute of Neurosciences and the Department of Cell Biology, Physiology and Immunology at the Autonomous University of Barcelona (UAB), participated in the research.

The collaboration includes contribution from leading national and international institutions, such as the Institute of Microelectronics of Barcelona – IMB-CNM (CSIC), the National Graphene Institute of Manchester (UK), and the Grenoble Neuroscience Institute – Université Grenoble Alpes (France). ) and the University of Barcelona. The integration of the technology into standard semiconductor manufacturing processes was carried out in the IMB-CNM's Specialized Micro- and Nano-fabrication Cleanroom (CSIC), under the supervision of CIBER researcher Dr. Xavi Illa.

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Clinical translation: next steps

EGNITE technology described in Nature nanotechnology The article was patented and licensed to INBRAIN Neuroelectronics, a Barcelona-based subsidiary of ICN2 and ICREA, with support from IMB-CNM (CSIC). The company, which is also a partner in the Graphene Flagship project, is leading the translation of the technology into clinical applications and products. Under the direction of CEO Carolina Aguilar, INBRAIN Neuroelectronics is preparing to conduct first-in-human clinical trials of this innovative graphene technology.

The industrial and innovation landscape in semiconductor engineering in Catalonia, where ambitious national strategies plan to build state-of-the-art facilities for the production of semiconductor technologies based on emerging materials, provides an unprecedented opportunity to accelerate the translation of these results presented today into clinical outcomes. Applications.

Concluding remarks

the Nature nanotechnology The article describes an innovative graphene-based neurotechnology that can be scaled up using established semiconductor manufacturing processes, holding the potential for a transformative impact. ICN2 and its partners continue to develop and mature the described technology with the goal of translating it into effective and innovative therapeutic neurotechnology.

Reference: “Graphene nanoscale-based thin-film microelectrodes for high-resolution neuronal recording and stimulation in vivo” by Damia Viana and Stephen T. Walston, Edward Masvidal Codina, Xavi Illa, Bruno Rodriguez Miana, Jaume del Valle, Andrew Hayward, Abby Dodd, Tomas Loret, Elisabet Prats Alfonso, Natalia de la Oliva, Marie Palma, Elena del Coro, María del Pilar Pernicola, Elisa Rodriguez Lucas, Thomas Jenner, Jose Manuel De la Cruz, Miguel Torres Miranda, Fikret Taigun. Dauphin, Nicola Rea, Justin Sperling, Sara Marti Sanchez, Maria Chiara Spadaro, Clement Hibbert, Sinead Savage, Jordi Arbiol, Anton Guimera-Brunet, M. Victoria Puig, Blaise Everett, Xavier Navarro, Costas Costarelos and José A. Garrido, January 11, 2024, Nature nanotechnology.
doi: 10.1038/s41565-023-01570-5

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