A Deep Brain Stimulation (DBS) consortium of Mayo Clinic physicians, scientists and engineers developed a wireless sensor that can detect chemical activity in the brain. The new system, called a wireless instantaneous neurotransmitter concentration sensor (WINCS), is connected to an electrode that will be surgically implanted in the brain to provide real-time measurements of chemical levels (e.g., dopamine, serotonin, glutamate). The hope is that these measurements can help direct neurosurgeons in the optimal placement of the stimulating electrode during DBS, thereby improving outcomes for patients.
DBS is a neurosurgical treatment that stimulates the brain with mild electrical signals that reorganize the brain’s electrical and chemical activity. DBS causes improvements in symptoms in a number of conditions affecting the brain, including Parkinson’s disease, tremor, epilepsy, depression and chronic pain.
“Potential future implications for this technology are immense,” says Kendall Lee, M.D., Ph.D., a Mayo Clinic neurosurgeon and director of the Mayo Clinic Neural Engineering laboratory. “WINCS may be part of a smart Deep Brain Stimulation device that is able to regulate neurotransmitter systems in the brain to better treat diseases such as Parkinson’s disease, depression, chronic pain and others.”
“This successful development is an excellent example of the value of applying research to provide better care for patients,” says Kevin Bennet, chair of the Mayo Clinic Division of Engineering. “And this can be accomplished through the close collaboration between physicians, scientists and engineers.”
To date, this system has been successfully used in animal trials. It has not yet been used in human studies.
This study was be presented at the American Academy of Neurological Surgery meeting in Sedona, Ariz., on Sept. 12, 2008.
Kevin Bennet provides an overview of the research.