Miniature smart chip developed to fight chronic pain
Australian researchers at National ICT Australia (NICTA) are combating chronic pain on scale smaller than ever before. Their new Implantable Neuro Sensing and Stimulation (INS2) device is not a new product in practice but it’s the scale that’s got everyone talking.
NICTA CTO, Dr. John Parker, put it into perspective by noting that existing pain blocking implants are typically the size of a matchbox; the new INS2 is about the size of a single match head. The smaller size means that the effectiveness of the device is enhanced partly because it can be implanted closer to the spine.
The chip is designed to be implanted into the body accompanied by a biocompatible device in a 1.22mm wide polymer yarn with electronic wires. Those wires are sewn into the human spine in a relatively non-intrusive fashion with minimal risk to the spinal column. The whole package is attached to a battery and processor that monitors the chip and allows for output to be adjusted remotely. And as an added plus, the battery can be charged wirelessly.
The whole thing ultimately works together to block pain signals from reaching the brain which means that chronic pain sufferers would see immediate relief. NICTA also believes there are applications far beyond treating chronic lower-body pain and see opportunities to help migraine sufferers, epileptics and patients dealing with Parkinson’s disease.
Human trials begin next year in Australia and NICTA is confident that the timeline from these trials to market will be swift.