A novel deep brain stimulation system for Parkinson’s disease therapy

Supervisors: Dr Joel Villalobos, A/Prof James Fallon

This translational research project will develop a new implantable system to enable closed-loop deep brain stimulation (DBS) therapy. Current DBS therapy was approved for treating Parkinson’s disease in 2002 and uses pacemaker-like stimulation to treat the symptoms caused by the loss of dopaminergic neurons. We are developing a next-generation system, capable of recording neural signatures from the brain electrodes, in order to provide adaptive stimulation. With the enhanced electrode array and lead system, we also aim to reduce the incidence of undesired side effects (30%) and medical complications (14-27%) related to limitations of the technology.

This project involves technology development and conducting preclinical evaluation of the electrode array and lead, to enable a first-in-human clinical trial. The in vivo efficacy of the electrode array for recording neural activity will be assessed, as well as the tissue response to the new lead system. The project is focused on developing a simpler, minimal surgical approach where all the components are

implanted in the head and a single-step electrode insertion is performed. The system will improve DBS therapy by improving stimulation selectivity, which will translate into better symptom relief with fewer side effects. This disease contributes to a major quality of life impairment and burden for caregivers. There is a critical need to address the efficacy issues as DBS is considered the last resort for refractive Parkinson’s disease patients.

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