Dr. Takashi Kozai
Visiting Research Assistant Professor
Neural Tissue Engineering Laboratory
Department of Bioengineering
University of Pittsburgh
The Molecular and Cellular Inflammatory Tissue Response to Implantable Neurotechnologies and Emerging Intervention Strategies
In recent decades, a rapid proliferation of neural interface technology has enabled researchers to interact with the nervous system in new ways. Penetrating multi-channel electrode arrays implanted into neural tissue allow recording of single-unit spike activity from multiple individual neurons and electrical stimulation of neurons to modulate the neuronal network. The ability to interface with the nervous system at high spatial and temporal resolution will revolutionarily advanced our knowledge of brain function and disease, as recently emphasized in President Obama’s Brain Research Through Advancing Innovative Neurotechnologies (BRAIN) Initiative. Furthermore, many implantable neural interface technologies are being developed to understand and treat neurological diseases, or monitor and restore functions, which can bring hope to approximately 200,000 patients with full or partial paralysis in the U.S. In several human trials, individuals with severe motor impairments have received brain implants that translate their thought directly into computer control signals to manipulation a cursor or a robotic arm. While these exciting trials demonstrated the feasibility of brain machine interfaces in humans, enthusiasm is tempered by the degradation of electrical characteristics over time and the eventual failure of these implants. This talk will discuss our current understanding of the underlying biological processes behind the inflammatory tissue response to cortically implanted devices, at the cellular and molecular level. These findings have elucidated pathways for a number of intervention strategies for improving performance longevity and device-tissue integration.