Patients suffering from chronic pain can soon enjoy a new option for pain mitigation.
This is in acknowledgement of the efforts of A*STAR’s Institute of Microelectronics (IME), jointly with a local biotechnology firm which led to the breakthrough of a new wireless implantable chronic pain management device.
Neurostimulators are surgical implants which can serve as a long-term solution for patients suffering from pain as a result of injury, surgery or health conditions. Neurostimulators trigger mild electrical signals to block pain signals from reaching the brain and are effective in relieving chronic pain. Patients will only feel a tingling or numbing sensation instead of constant pain.
However, such devices function on batteries, and every few years, the patients require additional surgery to replace the batteries.
Therefore, what distinguishes this newly developed wireless implantable device to its predecessor, is its unique ability to be powered in a wireless manner.
As such, it eliminates the need for invasive surgery for battery replacement.
The collaboration will leverage IME’s expertise in neural stimulation research and deep capabilities in application specific integrated circuit (ASIC) design and the biotech firm's expertise in the research and technology commercialisation of implantable wireless diagnostic and treatment devices.
The device is expected to be as small as rice grain (approximately 12 millimetres long), and will pave the way for smaller neurostimulators that are not dependent on bulky batteries.
The technology behind this device is actually a microchip that enables highly-efficient wireless data transmission and ultra-low power signal acquisition. The device is surgically implanted into the patient near the spinal nerves, and delivers electrical pulses that effectively block pain signals coming from the source of the pain while being powered wirelessly in real-time.
“Medical technologies such as implantable electronics are increasingly shaping the future of healthcare, providing quality treatment and convenience to patients. IME’s collaborations with industry including local enterprises… will continue to catalyse the growth of impactful innovations that deliver value to the healthcare community”, said Prof. Dim-Lee Kwong, Executive Director of IME.
In time , this partnership will aim to develop a functional prototype within a year’s time and will conduct extensive clinical studies to ensure patient safety in large-scale deployment.