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Smart chip by Indian-origin scientist capable of counteracting Parkinson’s

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Singapore: A smart chip capable of pairing itself with neural implants and enabling wireless transmission of brain signals is developed by an Indian-origin scientist. The smart chip will be able to decrease the harmful symptoms of Parkinson’s disease, giving paraplegic people the ability to move prosthetic limbs.

According to assistant professor Arindam Basu from Nanyang Technological University, Singapore (NTU Singapore), the research team has tested the chip on data recorded from animal models which showed that it could decode the brain’s signal to the hand and fingers with 95 percent accuracy.

“What we have developed is a very versatile smart chip that can process data, analyse patterns and spot the difference,” professor Basu said.

Currently, neural implants when embedded in the brain need to be connected by wires to an external device outside the body.

For a prosthetic patient, the neural implant is connected to a computer that decodes the brain signals so the artificial limb can move.

These external wires are not only cumbersome but the permanent openings, which allow the wires into the brain, increase the risk of infections.

The new chip can allow the transmission of brain data wirelessly and with high accuracy.

“The chip is about a hundred times more efficient than current processing chips on the market. It will lead to more compact medical wearable devices, such as portable ECG monitoring devices and neural implants since we no longer need large batteries to power them,” Basu explained.

Designed to be extremely power-efficient, the patented smart chip will analyse and decode the thousands of signals from the neural implants in the brain before compressing the results and sending it wirelessly to a small external receiver.

This new chip is designed to analyse data patterns and spot any abnormal or unusual patterns.

This would be extremely beneficial for the Internet of Things (IOT), where every electrical and electronic device is connected to the internet through a smart chip.

The team is also looking to expand the applications of the chip into commercial products, such as to customise it for smart home sensor networks, in collaboration with a local electronics company.

This invention and its findings were published last month in the prestigious journal, IEEE Transactions on Biomedical Circuits & Systems.(IANS)

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Novel Treatment Offers Promise to Stop Parkinson’s

After nine months, there was no change in the PET scans of those who received placebo. On the other hand, the group who received GDNF showed an improvement of 100 per cent in a key area of the brain affected in the condition

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10 million people living worldwide suffer from Parkinson;s disease Pixabay
10 million people living worldwide suffer from Parkinson;s disease Pixabay

An experimental treatment that delivers a drug directly to the brain has shown promise for slowing, stopping, or even reversing Parkinson’s disease, say researchers.

The study, by a team led by University of Bristol researchers, in a clinical trial investigated whether the treatment called Glial Cell Line Derived Neurotrophic Factor (GDNF) — a natural protein, found in the brain — can regenerate dying dopamine brain cells in patients with Parkinson’s and reverse their condition, something no existing treatment can do.

The results potentially demonstrated that the new treatment was starting to reawaken and restore damaged brain cells and that repeated brain infusion is clinically feasible and tolerable, according in the Journal of Parkinson’s Disease.

The study “represents some of the most compelling evidence yet that we may have a means to possibly reawaken and restore the dopamine brain cells that are gradually destroyed in Parkinson’s”, said principal investigator Alan L. Whone, from the University of Bristol in the UK.

After an initial safety study of six people, 35 individuals were enrolled in the nine-month double blind trial, in which half were randomly assigned to receive monthly infusions of GDNF and the other half placebo infusions.

Parkinson's Disease
Parkinson’s Disease Gets Awareness From Various Events. Flickr

All participants underwent robot-assisted surgery to have four tubes placed into their brains, which allowed GDNF or placebo to be infused directly to the affected areas with pinpoint accuracy, via a port in their head.

After implantation the team administered, more than 1,000 brain infusions, once every four weeks.

After nine months, there was no change in the PET scans of those who received placebo. On the other hand, the group who received GDNF showed an improvement of 100 per cent in a key area of the brain affected in the condition.

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“This trial has shown that we can safely and repeatedly infuse drugs directly into patients’ brains over months or years,” said Steven Gill, lead neurosurgeon at North Bristol NHS Trust, Bristol, UK

“This is a significant breakthrough in our ability to treat neurological conditions, such as Parkinson’s, because most drugs that might work cannot cross from the blood stream into the brain due to a natural protective barrier.” (IANS)