Wendelsheim, 14th of March, 2017

Project “ByAxon”                      

We, the mfd-Diagnostics GmbH in Wendelsheim, are participating in an international neurophysiological study that is funded by the European Union EU.

This so called ByAxon project is devoted to the development of a new generation of sensors and electrodes based on nanotechnology materials for neural interfacing. We aim to design and build a prototype of an active implant that could work directly at the spinal cord (SC) level. This implant will be primary focused on restoring the transmission of electrical signals in the injured SC, acting as an active local bypass, something not possible with current technology. Further applications might include deep brain stimulation or retinal implants among others.

Current neural interfacing approaches are based on detecting electric potentials at the brain level and/or triggering functional electrical stimulation (FES) through electrodes at muscular or SC levels. Important present drawbacks are the large number of cables and electrodes they require and, specially, the lack of sensory feedback. The ultimate non-contact sensing devices (magnetoencephalography) detect magnetic-field pulses generated by potentials at the brain but require cryogenic temperatures, and hence are not portable. We will exploit here the enhanced properties of nanostructured materials to develop improved room temperature magnetoresistance-based high-resolution magnetic sensors. This will allow tackling not only the brain but also the SC directly. We pursuit a novel integrated interface comprising both sensing and stimulation at the SC level. To reach this aim, we will develop FES electrodes of enhanced adhesion and efficiency by using nanowire coatings.

In this project, mfd Diagnostics conducts the study of the biocompatibility of the bypass components and the electrophysiological investigations of the bypass prototype in vivo.

Our nanotechnology-based approach offers a novel perspective and will be complementary to, but independent from, present neural regenerative techniques. Our technology promises significant outcomes towards the development of an active local bypass and it has the potential to provide much-needed breakthroughs in future neuromedicine.

ByAxon is supported by an interdisciplinary consortium, going from material scientists and electronic experts to biologists and clinicians deriving from Spain, Germany, Italy and France.

Our co-operation partners are:

o   Imdea Nanoscience (Fundacion Imdea Nanociencia), Madrid, Spain

o   SISSA (Scuola Internazionale Superiore di Studi Avanzati), Triest, Italy

o   Sescam (Servicio de Salud de Castilla la Mancha), Madrid, Spain

o   CNRS (Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique), Cean, France

This project has received funding from the European Union´s Horizon 2020 research and innovation program under grant agreement No 737116