Wireless deep BRAIN Stimulation through engineered multifunctional nanomaterials.
The BRAINSTORM platform
BRAINSTORM’s radical innovation will create ‘nanoinvasive’, wireless neuromodulation paradigms with high spatiotemporal precision and the ability to activate or inhibit selected neuronal circuits on demand. Smart Magentic Nanomaterials (SMNs) that can be activated by external magnetic fields are employed for precise thermal and mechanical stimulation of neuronal cells. Surface engineering with advanced polymer coatings enables conversion to electrical actuation, endogenous ion channel targeting, delivery of viral vectors and MRI based detection. The stimulation of excitatory ion channels activates neuronal activity, while stimulation of inhibitory ion channels silences targeted neurons. BRAINSTORM will establish an implant-free, clinically scalable medical device that will overcome major barriers in the treatment of brain diseases.
BRAINSTORM technology lies at the nexus of neuroscience and neural engineering, offering a therapeutic platform for presently incurable brain diseases. Next-generation neuromodulation will be mediated by multifunctional SMNs, controlled and directed by external coils in a novel functional design based on metamaterials. This represents a new scientific frontier and a novel approach to the treatment of neurodegenerative diseases. BRAINSTORM uses SMNs to apply a physical stimulus to neuronal cells while retaining nano-invasivity, biocompatibility and exquisite spatiotemporal control. Our central SMN actuator is a nanomagnetic material that is functionalised to be ‘therapeutically armed and ready’ to modulate neural activity through the application of magnetic fields. Magnetic SMNs are applied as magnetite nanodiscs (a), nanotubes (b) and nanorings (c).
The combination with functional polymer coatings exploits intrinsic SMN properties to convert them into efficient targeting and stimulation nanoscale devices. The combination of thermal, mechanical and electrical actuation delivers the unprecedented ability to activate/inhibit neurons on demand in a multimodal fashion.
This project has received funding from the European Union’s European Innovation Council, call HORIZON-EIC-2022-PATHFINDEROPEN-01, under Grant Agreement n. 101099355