New generation of microimplants
5/18/2023 Digitalisation Transformation News

New generation of microimplants

They are just the size of a thumbnail, can communicate with each other, react to each other, and should make the lives of people with functional limitations easier in the future. We are talking about a new generation of interactive microimplants developed by the BMBF innovation cluster INTAKT, coordinated by the Fraunhofer Institute for Biomedical Engineering IBMT. The miniature helpers are, for example, impulse generators for tinnitus or for functional disorders of the digestive tract and are intended to support the recovery of the hand's gripping functions.

Presentation of the new generation of microimplants Coordinated stimulation of the microimplants assists in the execution of hand movements. (Image: WILDDESIGN GmbH, Gelsenkirchen)
The development of tiny helpers that can be implanted in the body aims to improve the quality of life of people with functional limitations. Active implants such as brain and heart pacemakers can stimulate nerves via electrical impulses. Unlike many drugs, they work directly and locally. Since they work via electrical signals, they have hardly any side effects. Their weak points: Cable connections between the central implant and electrodes can break, batteries have to be replaced regularly. The aim of the innovation cluster "INTer-AKTive Mikroimplantate" INTAKT, funded by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research, was therefore to develop a new generation of active, interconnected microimplants that can remain in the body for life. With the Institute as the collaborative coordinator, 18 cooperation partners from business, science, and the clinical sector developed a network of up to twelve microimplants that communicate wirelessly, in real-time, and securely with each other.

Patients can adapt implants to their needs themselves

In addition to communicating with each other, patients and doctors can also communicate with the implant network from outside at any time. "Via laptop or smartphone, the affected person can adjust his own implants at any time to suit his current needs and optimise the therapy or rehabilitation together with the doctor," explains Klaus-Peter Hoffmann, former head of the biomedical technology department at the Institute. This enables doctor-patient cooperation at eye level.

Initial preclinical tests and studies with test persons have shown that the INTAKT applications developed so far work. The task now is to go a long way towards transferring the development to clinical application and making it usable for patients.
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