Design and Fabrication of Optical Probes that use Photo- Chemical Neural Stimulation or Inhibition
Introduction Stimulation of neural tissue is typically done with electrodes inserted into or in close proximity to the neurons. Excitation or inhibition of a neural pathway is accomplished by electrically stimulating the neighboring neurons. The lack of longterm functionality of these electrodes is well known. For example, only 20 to 40%
of the electrodes in a microwire array of neural stimulators are functional after implantation. Technology description Researchers at the UW have developed an alternative way of stimulating neural tissue using optical probes that more closely mimics the chemical stimulation and transmission of signals among neurons. Instead of metal wires and silicon micromachined probes, this technique will use commercially available optical fibers and hollow glass capillary tubes. It can be applied to neural tissue that is not directly exposed to laser stimulation. Business opportunity The anticipated advantage of using optical probes is that the neurons can be chemically stimulated at high frequencies by using photo-release of chemicals, such as caged neurotransmitters, for applications such as deep brain stimulation for Parkinson’s disease. Stage of development The technique has been demonstrated and initial data obtained for this technology. Intellectual property position The UW is currently reviewing this technology for worldwide patent protection.
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