Neural Engineering Laboratory at Mayo Clinic led by Kendall Lee, M.D., Ph.D, received a $2.5 million grant to develop novel methods to detect the release of neurotransmitters in the living brain. The grant is part of the National Institutes of Health’s first wave of investments totaling $46 million to support the goals of the Brain Research through Advancing Innovative Neurotechnologies (BRAIN) Initiative. The BRAIN Initiative, launched by President Obama in April 2013, strives to revolutionize our understanding of the human brain and to uncover new ways to treat, prevent, and cure brain disorders.
The Neural Engineering Laboratory collaborated with Mayo Clinic Division of Engineering to develop diamond-coated electrodes and advanced algorithms for the detection of neurotransmitters in the brain. The laboratory studies deep brain stimulation (DBS), a neurosurgical technique, used to modulate brain activity and treat patients with tremors and movement disorders.
DBS is currently approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for the treatment of movement disorders such as Parkinson’s disease but improvements in the technique such as those being pioneered at the Mayo Clinic may allow DBS to be used for the treatment of a wider variety of conditions including obsessive-compulsive disorder, Tourette’s syndrome, depression, and epilepsy.
Durability of the sensors is found to be one of the major challenges with the DBS technology, and the team has discovered that new diamond electrodes offer both the durability and sensitivity for long term sensing in the human brain, improving the outcomes for the patients.
Other collaborators on the grant include Dr. Felicia Manciu from the Physics Department at the University of Texas at El Paso, and Dr. Dong Pyo Jang from Hanyang University in Seoul, Korea.
You can find out more about the BRAIN Initiative grants here.