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Details of Grant 

EPSRC Reference: EP/R004498/1
Title: Polymer Bioelectronics for High Resolution Implantable Devices
Principal Investigator: Green, Professor R
Other Investigators:
Di Giovanni, Professor S
Researcher Co-Investigators:
Project Partners:
Boston Scientific Corporation Galvani Bioelectronics
Department: Bioengineering
Organisation: Imperial College London
Scheme: Standard Research
Starts: 03 May 2018 Ends: 02 May 2024 Value (£): 1,078,948
EPSRC Research Topic Classifications:
Biomaterials Materials Synthesis & Growth
Med.Instrument.Device& Equip.
EPSRC Industrial Sector Classifications:
Related Grants:
Panel History:
Panel DatePanel NameOutcome
18 Sep 2017 Healthcare Technologies Challenge Awards 2 Interviews (Panel B) September 2017 Announced
28 Jun 2017 Healthcare Technologies Challenge Awards 28 June 2017 Announced
Summary on Grant Application Form
When bioelectronic devices such as cochlear implants, bionic eyes, brain-machine interfaces, nerve block stimulators and cardiac pacemakers are implanted into the body they induce an inflammatory response that is difficult to control. Metals used historically for these types of devices (for instance platinum/iridium in cardiac pacemakers) are both stiff and inorganic. Consequently these implants are tolerated by the body rather than integrated and the device is often walled off in a scar tissue capsule. As a result high powered and unsafe currents are required to activate tissues and produce a therapeutic response. This limitation has prevented the development of high resolution bionic devices that can improve patient quality of life (for example by enabling improved perception of sound for cochlear implant users).

This research programme will bring together concepts from tissue engineering, polymer design and bionic device technologies to develop soft and flexible polymer bioelectronics. A range of novel conductive biomaterials will be used to either coat conventional devices or fabricated as free-standing fully organic electrode arrays from conductive polymers (CPs), hydrogels, elastomers and native proteins. The electrode array stiffness will be matched to that of nerve tissue and the polymer components will be biofunctionalised to improve cell interactions, prevent rejection and minimise scar formation.

Coating technologies will be assessed as a pathway to modifying existing commercial devices in collaboration with industry partners, Galvani Bioelectronics and Boston Scientific. Ultimately, the research programme will demonstrate safety and efficacy of polymeric electrode arrays using protocols defined by medical device regulatory bodies. Collaboration with industry partners will ensure that outcomes are relevant to the market and directly translatable while engaging key stakeholders.

Polymer bioelectronics will be a ground breaking step towards safer neural cell stimulation, which is more compatible with tissue survival and regeneration. High resolution electrode arrays based on polymer technologies will create a paradigm shift in biomedical electrode design with tremendous impact on healthcare worldwide.

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Organisation Website: http://www.imperial.ac.uk