New white paper details early experience with ABILITY brain-computer interface

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ABILITY (Credit: Wyss Center)

A new white paper, released by the Wyss Center for Bio and Neuroengineering (Geneva, Switzerland), reveals the first neural signals recorded by the ABILITY brain-computer interface (BCI) system. It also lays out the plan for a forthcoming human clinical trial with ABILITY to enable communication for people ‘locked-in’ as a result of brain stem stroke or amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS).

As per a Wyss Center press release, the white paper draws on experience from a recent clinical case study that successfully enabled BCI communication for a person completely locked-in because of ALS.

It reviews existing methods of recording electrical activity from the brain and describes the clinical need for breakthrough implant technology, as well as detailing the next steps to a clinical study that will not only assess the device performance but also the acceptance of implantable BCIs by patients, caregivers, and healthcare professionals.

The Wyss Center team, together with academic and clinical collaborators, and a network of industrial technology partners, is developing ABILITY—a wireless, implantable medical device intended to improve quality of life and provide independence for people with paralysis.

Jonas Zimmerman, senior neuroscientist at the Wyss Center, said: “Neuroscience is experiencing a global renaissance. In recent years, many talented research groups and industry leaders have developed new technologies ready to be tailored for people with severe paralysis. Now is the time to build on these achievements, overcome the final hurdles, and bring neural interface technology to those who need it most.”

“The Wyss Center team and my lab are working together towards the same goal of restoring communication for people who are locked-in,” added Wyss Center collaborator Nick Ramsey (UMC Utrecht Brain Center, Utrecht, The Netherlands). “We believe that future BCIs will go far beyond current technology and have the exciting potential to bring new levels of independence to people with paralysis in their daily life.”

George Kouvas, Wyss Center chief technology officer, commented: “With fully implantable BCIs still in their infancy, our approach at the Wyss Center is to offer a versatile system that not only connects to multiple electrode technologies, but that records neural signals from many channels at very high frequencies and wirelessly transmits the raw data using a high-speed optical link. In these early days, we believe that a versatile technology like ABILITY addresses the unmet needs of early adopters and, as a consequence, has the potential to help the BCI market grow.”


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