Diamond implants are forever

April 30, 2012
Diamond implants are forever
© Thinkstock

Artificial retina implants for treating neurodegenerative diseases and blindness were developed by the EU-funded 'Diamond to retina artificial micro-interface structures' (Dreams) project.

Electrical stimulation of the specialised cell’s that conduct nerve impulses, known as neurones, is a well known therapy for treating Parkinson’s disease and other degenerative disorders of the central nervous system (CNS). This approach could also have a significant impact on the treatment of .

However, available commercial devices based on metal-impregnated electrodes break down in the body causing cells to react by forming a glial scar. Therefore, a new approach was needed for creating implants that could activate the neurones and not degrade over time.

The Dreams project investigated new types of nanotransducers based on artificial nanocrystalline diamond (NCD), which does not break down in the body, and took advantage of NCD semiconducting properties. The consortium’s aim was to create biocompatible implants that were capable of restoring patients’ vision to a useable level.

Project partners used NCD films to create new structures on which neural cells could be grown to create implants that were compatible with the human body. The scientists then assessed the survival rate and stability of the cells, which were taken from the lining of the inner eye of laboratory rats. The ability of the implants to successfully activate neurones was also examined.

Results showed good biocompatibility for diamond in contact with retinal tissue and supported the potential use of diamond in neural and retinal prostheses. The project’s success therefore provides a ray of hope for sufferers of degenerative disease and blindness, who may not have to remain in the dark any longer.

Related Stories

Recommended for you

A sodium surprise: Engineers find unexpected result during cardiac research

July 20, 2017
Irregular heartbeat—or arrhythmia—can have sudden and often fatal consequences. A biomedical engineering team at Washington University in St. Louis examining molecular behavior in cardiac tissue recently made a surprising ...

Want to win at sports? Take a cue from these mighty mice

July 20, 2017
As student athletes hit training fields this summer to gain the competitive edge, a new study shows how the experiences of a tiny mouse can put them on the path to winning.

'Smart' robot technology could give stroke rehab a boost

July 19, 2017
Scientists say they have developed a "smart" robotic harness that might make it easier for people to learn to walk again after a stroke or spinal cord injury.

Engineered liver tissue expands after transplant

July 19, 2017
Many diseases, including cirrhosis and hepatitis, can lead to liver failure. More than 17,000 Americans suffering from these diseases are now waiting for liver transplants, but significantly fewer livers are available.

Lunatic Fringe gene plays key role in the renewable brain

July 19, 2017
The discovery that the brain can generate new cells - about 700 new neurons each day - has triggered investigations to uncover how this process is regulated. Researchers at Baylor College of Medicine and Jan and Dan Duncan ...

New animal models for hepatitis C could pave the way for a vaccine

July 19, 2017
They say that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. In the case of hepatitis C—a disease that affects nearly 71 million people worldwide, causing cirrhosis and liver cancer if left untreated—it might be worth ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.