A new device from researchers at the University of Cambridge, École Nationale Supérieure des Mines and French National Institute of Health and Medical Research (INSERM) in France can stop seizures at the first symptom. So far researchers have implanted the device in the brains of mice and have seen success.
"These thin, organic films do minimal damage in the brain, and their electrical properties are well-suited for these types of applications," said Professor George Malliaras, the Prince Philip Professor of Technology in Cambridge's Department of Engineering, who led the research.
The implantable device could eliminate the need for epilepsy drugs. Epilepsy drugs often have negative side effects and have been reported to not work in three out of ten patients.
The neurotransmitter in the device acts like a brake at the source of the seizure. It has electrodes that are monitoring the brain activity. The electrodes are what detects the start of a seizure. When a seizure is detected, the ion pump containing the drugs is activated, causing the seizure to stop. The electrodes create an electric field that moves the drugs to the affected area.
The device controls drug strength with the help of the electric field. When the drug is administered into the body, it is absorbed within minutes. This greatly reduces the drug's side effects.
While the device is promising for seizure management, it won’t be available for human patients for a few more years. The researchers are planning on studying the long-term effects in mice before starting to test it on humans.