A study demonstrating the successful deep-brain placement of a brain-computer interface (BCI) microchip into a living animal with no apparent neurological effects has been published in the journal Brain-Computer Interfaces, as per a press release from NICO Corporation.
The publication—led by Julian Bailes (NorthShore University HealthSystem, Evanston, USA), a recognised leader in the field of neurosurgery—may have addressed the “long-standing challenge” of safely accessing subcortical regions of the brain for the purpose of microchip implantation without disrupting surrounding tissue.
NICO also notes that this proof-of-concept study used a modified and miniaturised NICO BrainPath device, which the company claims is the “world’s first” navigated trans-sulcal access technology widely used in minimally invasive parafascicular surgery (MIPS) for access in the removal of brain tumours and evacuation of haemorrhagic stroke.
“This study had two intentions,” Bailes explained. “The first to describe the methodology for the successful implantation of an integrated circuit (IC) into the deep subcortical brain space and, secondly, to investigate how the mammalian brain would accept or reject the IC. We wanted to learn about potential damage to the neural architecture, whether infection would arise, and if the animal could survive with minimal or no functional change after subcortical placement of the IC.”
BCI technologies have, thus far, been placed at or just below the cortical surface; however, the majority of the brain’s functional architecture is in the brain’s interior. NICO states that its technologies remove the barrier of deep-brain access by providing a safe pathway for delivery of a BCI into these subcortical regions, leading to possible treatments for many neurological disorders.
“It is such an exciting time in neurosurgery and the neurosciences,” said Jim Pearson, president and chief executive officer of NICO. “We are successfully leading the industry with our innovations that enable new opportunities, not just for improved patient care and better outcomes, but also for merging the latest in minimally invasive technologies with the exploding area of artificial intelligence, and a new generation of therapeutic and diagnostic technologies.”