Novel Shape-Memory Electrodes for Minimally Invasive Spinal Cord Stimulation and Recording

Novel Shape-Memory Electrodes for Minimally Invasive Spinal Cord Stimulation and Recording

Neuromodulation is a rapidly expanding field of clinical neuroscience. Yet the widespread use of neuronal probes for recording and functional stimulation has been slow to develop, in part because of incompatibility problems with existing metallic and ceramic probes, as well as surgical complexity and potential tissue damage or infection during probe insertion. Our technology is an electrode array made of shape-memory alloys and/or shape-memory polymers that can be inserted in a minimally invasive fashion through a needle or a small window in the spine or skull.  Once inserted, the temperature-driven shape-memory response transforms the electrode shape into a shape that covers a more desirable area of the brain or spinal cord.

Market Opportunity
Spinal cord stimulation (SCS) is a common treatment of neuropathic pain, and has been shown to reduce use of opioids for pain management. SCS is delivered through an electrode lead that is inserted into the epidural space. SCS electrode leads can be divided into two main categories: paddle leads, which have a width of ~10 mm and are placed through an open laminectomy procedure, and cylindrical leads, which have a width of ~1.3 mm and are placed percutaneously through a needle. Paddle leads provide better coverage due to their ability to insulate and conform to the dorsal spinal cord surface, more densely packed electrode contacts, and unidirectionality in electrical impulse delivery. Cylindrical leads, on the other hand, may not have the width to target as many neuronal components, but have the benefit of a minimally invasive percutaneous insertion procedure without the need for a spine surgeon or general anesthesia. This minimally invasive technology equals the superior coverage of the paddle, yet is simpler, safer, and more cost effective.

Innovation and Meaningful Advantages
Shape-memory alloys and polymers retain their state and shape of deformation when introduced into an environment. Once the materials are moved to another environment, they behave elastically and return to their original state and shape. Different materials are responsive to different stimuli: electric current, ultrasound, light, and heat. Though shape-memory polymers have been used to produce medical devices, such uses have usually been a result of trial and error. Our mathematical modeling and numerical simulation method enable more accurate design of complex polymer-based shape-memory systems and devices.

The use of shape-memory materials in our electrode technology has many advantages, including: minimally invasive insertion, optimal and customizable electrode coverage of intended region, reduced risk of electrode migration from intended region of coverage, and reduced damage to tissue surrounding the electrode array. 

Collaboration Opportunity
We are interested in exploring 1) startup opportunities with investors in the medical device space; 2) research collaborations with leading medical device companies to develop this technology; and 3) licensing opportunities with medical device companies. 

Principal Investigator
Vikas Srivastava, PhD
Assistant Professor of Engineering
Brown University
Brown Tech ID #3101J, 3045J

Melissa Simon, PhD
Director of Business Development

IP Information
PCT/US2021/029704 pending; priority date: 2020-4-28

Patent Information:
For Information, Contact:
Brown Technology Innovations
350 Eddy Street - Box 1949
Providence, RI 02903
Vikas Srivastava
Albert Edward Telfeian
Shailen Sampath
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