Mar 032011

On the heеls of the previous post, here is another news bit on the topic of retinal implants. Over the years, we have witnessed a variety of approaches being applied for retinal stimulation, including the epiretinal, subretinal, and suprachoroidal. One feature, however, remained unchanged in those varied types of implants – a planar geometry of the stimulation array.  At least until now. As the competition in the retinal implant sector is heating up,  the issues of low-power operation and improved electrode contact with retinal neurons is fueling the development of stimulation arrays featuring the 3D geometries. Improved charge delivery to retinal neurons has been achieved a few years ago by fabricating the protruding 3D nanoelectrodes in Daniel Palanker’s lab at Stanford University and at Dong-Il Dan Cho’s and Sung June Kim’s labs at Seoul National University. Now, preparing to reach even deeper into the retina, the Israeli company Nano-Retina Inc., co-founded by Rainbow Medical Ltd. and Zyvex Labs. , is developing the Bio-Retina implant featuring the array of 100-µm-sized penetrating electrodes. Their length should allow the electrodes to reach the layer of bipolar cells that are spared in AMD and other degenerating retinal disorders. The first-generation array will have 24×24 electrodes and the second – 72×72. Power to the device will be delivered wirelessly using the infrared light beamed from the glasses. To expedite their efforts in developing the low-power IC chip with the built-in photodetector array and power telemetry, Nano-Retina has teamed up with CMES (Centre Suisse d’Electronique et de Microtechnique), a non-profit R&D center in Switzerland. According to their (perhaps too optimistic) estimates they plan to have the functional device ready for clinical trials by 2013 and even have estimated the target price of $60K for the Bio-Retina implant. We wish the best of luck to this young ambitious company, hoping it has what it takes to develop a device from scratch in such a short period of time.

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