Joint study among Quebec Science’s top ten

Research describes how super-soft brain implants can be made and implanted using hardened sugar

For the third year in a row, a study including researchers at The Neuro has made Quebec Science's list of top ten discoveries.

This year, the science magazine has recognized a study led by Tim Kennedy from The Neuro and David Juncker and Edward Zhang from McGill University's Department of Biomedical Engineering. It describes a unique way of making and implanting super-soft brain implants using hardened sugar.

Brain implants are used to treat neurological dysfunction, and their use for enhancing cognitive abilities is a promising field of research. Implants can be used to monitor brain activity or stimulate parts of the brain using electrical pulses.

Traditional brain implants are harder than the surrounding brain tissue, creating a foreign body response that limits their effectiveness. But to make an implant as soft as brain tissue is difficult because it would be easily destroyed during molding and implantation.

A silicon master mold with implant features of 200 um x 300 um created using microfabrication

The team overcame these challenges with an unusual material: regular table sugar. They created a sugar mold to create the implant from super-soft polymer, then a sugar needle to implant it. Both the mold and needle dissolve after use, freeing the implant without destroying it.

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The Neuro (Montreal Neurological Institute-Hospital) is a bilingual academic healthcare institution. We are a McGill research and teaching institute; delivering high-quality patient care, as part of the Neuroscience Mission of the McGill University Health Centre. We are proud to be a Killam Institution, supported by the Killam Trusts.



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