Closed-loop bioelectrical neuromodulation control over bladder function

Supervisors: Dr Sophie Payne, A/Prof James Fallon

The urinary bladder stores urine produced by the kidneys and voids it from the body at behaviourally appropriate times (micturition). However, following prostectomy or colorectal resections, the nerves that control the process of urination are often damaged, leading to urinary incontinence or retention. Although not life threatening, this condition is socially debilitating and often leads to depression, anxiety and increased rates of suicide.

Controlling urination with a bionic device implanted onto nerves that innervate the bladder is a novel technique for the treatment of bladder incontinence/retention. An electrode array can be used to activate or inhibit neural signals in order to trigger or prevent urination. However, for this technology to be useful, precise timing of the application of electrical neuromodulation is essential. Therefore, developing a recording feedback system that detects neural signals in order to allow accurate and timely delivery of the stimulation (i.e. closed loop) is highly advantageous. Ultimately, this technology will detect when the bladder is nearly full, and will send electrical signals to the bladder nerve to stimulate urination at an appropriate time. This project will use the rodent urogenital system to develop neural recording technology to be able to distinguish between different neural fibre types so that this technology can be utilized to develop closed-loop control over bladder function.

This Masters in Biomedical Science or Honours project would suit students that have experience in the following disciplines: neuroscience; endocrinology; bioengineering; physiology; biomedical science.

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