Feb 20, 2024

Engineering a Tiny Medical Marvel: Capturing Neural Activity in Mice

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Printed parts on a penny
Printed parts on a penny

In our recent project with the University of Bordeaux, alongside Louison Brochoire, Prof. Pascal Fossat and Prof. Yves De Koninck, we embarked on an ambitious journey to develop a groundbreaking medical device. Their mission? To record the activity of neurons in the spinal cords of a mouse — a task that presented unique challenges and demanded innovative solutions.

Recording the electrical signals in a moving mouse’s spinal cord was no small feat. The precision required, with electrode holes measuring as tiny as 110 micrometers within a narrow 2.7 mm width, proved to be beyond the capabilities of traditional manufacturing methods. Even with 3D printing, achieving the level of accuracy necessary for our project remained elusive.

Undeterred by setbacks, they turned to our cutting-edge technology for a solution. Nano Dimension’s Fabrica printers—a marvel of modern engineering boasting unrivaled precision and microscopic accuracy. With pixel sizes as minuscule as 4 micrometers and layers a mere 5 microns thick, our printers offered a glimmer of hope in our pursuit of perfection. In just a matter of days, their and our vision materialized into reality as a functional prototype emerged from the depths of experimentation.

The selection of materials was paramount to our success. They opted for Nano Dimension’s Fabrica Medical M-810 material, renowned for its biocompatibility and cytotoxicity clearance. This ensured the safety and efficacy of the device for eventual implantation into mice — a critical consideration in the realm of biomedical engineering.

The culmination of our efforts yielded remarkable results. The bespoke brace we meticulously designed provided a stable foundation for electrodes, enabling precise recording of spinal cord activity even amidst the mouse’s movements. This breakthrough not only advanced their research agenda but also underscored the indispensable role of innovative manufacturing solutions in driving progress within the field of biomedical engineering.

Our project exemplifies the power of collaboration, perseverance, and technological innovation in overcoming complex challenges. As we reflect on this journey, we are filled with a sense of accomplishment and excitement for future research and application development. Armed with newfound insights and a spirit of unwavering determination, we stand poised to continue pushing the boundaries of biomedical research, fueled by the conviction that the pursuit of knowledge knows no bounds.

Assembled 3D printed part with electrodes, 110 um holes for electrodes and a 2.7 mm width

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