IITKGP’s Bioelectronics Research to Develop Coin-sized Biological Computers for Medical Treatment

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IIT Kharagpur has set up India’s pioneering Bioelectronics Innovation Laboratory to develop futuristic battery-free implantable medical devices for treatment of brain, nerve, muscle or spinal cord disorders that are untreatable by using standard medical practices.

Bioelectronics is a new and an exciting field in engineering that is yet to make its mark in India. It utilizes the intersecting knowledge of both electronics and biology. Bioelectronic devices generally target to restore missing neural functions, while utilizing energy efficient and miniaturized engineering systems.

“We aim to implant coin-sized electronic chips with wireless energy supply for rehabilitation and prostheses applications. These chips will solve neural connectivity problems that are otherwise unaddressed by latest medical sciences. Our solutions will incorporate a combination of electrical stimulation, bio-potential recording and neuro-chemical sensing. Unlike the standard pace-makers that require a surgery every 5 to 10 years due to limited battery-life, our solutions depend on wireless power transfer and intelligent communication schemes. This will enhance the lifetime of implants and reduce the number of surgical interventions. The programmable chips will help in adopting with varying physiological conditions in patients. The present line of research targets subjects with blindness, limb paralysis, sensory-motor dysfunction, cognition-loss, Parkinsons tremor, epileptic seizures, and even memory loss. The novel bioelectronic devices will be able to sense bio-signals, process information to make intelligent decisions, and control diseased organs by electrical methods” explained Prof. Sudip Nag from the Department of Electronics and Electrical Engineering who is heading this initiative at IIT Kharagpur.

The proposed medical devices will help in realizing highly affordable and reliable medical solutions that are accessible to the common population in India and the world. The laboratory will facilitate energy efficient electronic system development, biocompatible packaging, bio-reliability assessment and animal testing rooms as a unified platform for an end-to-end intelligent medical system development. Grants have been received from IIT Kharagpur, under MHRD Imprint program, SFTIG Indo-Canadian Fellowship grant etc. It is in the process of setting up collaborations with several hospitals and institutes in India and abroad.

In addition to innovating new medical devices, the laboratory will open new career avenues in incubating companies for production and marketing and also create an international supply base for medical devices giants like Medtronic, Boston Scientific, Advanced Bionic, Second Sight and Saint Jude’s Medical, opined Prof. Nag. “We are looking forward to technology licensing and commercialization of bioelectronic devices that are being developed in this laboratory,” he said.

By Shreyoshi Ghosh

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