Scientists develop painkilling spinal implant

Scientists develop painkilling spinal implant

Summary: A research team in Australia is preparing to start human trials of a smart chip implant that could measure and stop pain signals travelling to the brain

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TOPICS: Emerging Tech
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Researchers in Sydney are preparing to conduct human trials of a smart chip that, when implanted in the spinal cord, could measure and stop pain signals travelling to the brain.

Spinal implant image

Scientists in Sydney are working on a smart chip implant that could measure and stop pain signals travelling to the brain. Photo credit: Nicta

The technology targets chronic pain and has been developed by National ICT Australia (Nicta) over the last two years by experts in biomedical, electrical and mechanical engineering, as well as specialists in textile technology and software applications.

The smart chip is put into a biocompatible device, which is a little smaller than the head of a match. A couple of the devices are then sewn into a 1.22mm-wide micro-lead made from polymer yarn and electronic wires. The wires are then inserted into the spine — or elsewhere — and connected to a device containing a battery and a computer processor. This set-up, according to Nicta, can then measure the properties of nerves carrying pain signals to the brain and can send a 10V electric pulse to block those signals, tricking the brain into thinking there is no pain.

For more on this ZDNet UK-selected story, see Sydney scientists beat pain with spinal chip on ZDNet Australia.


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Topic: Emerging Tech

Suzanne Tindal

About Suzanne Tindal

Suzanne Tindal cut her teeth at ZDNet.com.au as the site's telecommunications reporter, a role that saw her break some of the biggest stories associated with the National Broadband Network process. She then turned her attention to all matters in government and corporate ICT circles. Now she's taking on the whole gamut as news editor for the site.

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2 comments
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  • Can anyone say "Very Expensive Bandaid"??!!

    Get Real and work out how to get STEM CELLS to Everyone and the world would be a better place!!!!
    This sort of thing is just a waste of time and money, amongst other things and as a sufferer of chronic back pain would NOT be willing to have this thing put in my back!!!!!!!
    davec26@...
  • I wonder about the direction/intention of this resarch.
    Body has pain-----> signal goes to brain -----> brain responds with appropriate action---->person takes necessary medical help to solve the issue as required
    In this case, when the chip is implanted :
    Body has pain-----> signal does not go to brain -----> brain cannot respond with appropriate action---->person will not take necessary medical help to solve the issue as required----->problem remains and can become worst, creating bigger problems for the person.

    what are you doing ?
    sudhirgandotra