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Electronic Chips: Researchers developed a new brain monitoring chip that dissolves after use in rats

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(Credit: China Photos/Getty Images) CHENGDU, CHINA - AUGUST 3: (CHINA OUT) A worker holds a white rat at the State Key Laboratory of Biotherapy established by the West China Medical School of Sichuan University on August 3, 2005 in Chengdu of Sichuan Province, southwest China. The lab has carried out gene therapy, immunotherapy, cell therapy and other researches, using thousands of white rats, according to local media.White Rats Used For Gene Therapy Research At The State Key Laboratory of Biotherapy
January 21
6:04 AM 2016

Researchers have succeeded implanting electronic chips in rats' brains that dissolve after they are no longer needed. The implanted chips contain electronic sensors and wires that allow the researchers to monitor the brain via the signals they transmit wirelessly.

Nature published the study that was completed last year. The researchers pointed out the importance of the technology and procedure of dissolving electronic chips. They said that electronic implants were crucial in treating some kinds of injuries, especially brain injuries. But, the existing procedure exposed the patients with so many dangers, including infections and immune-mediated pathological tissue reactions.

The removal of the electronic chips also imposes dangers of distress associated with re-operation with higher risks of additional complications. In their newly-developed procedure, all the materials to be implanted were to be naturally resorbed via hydrolysis and/or metabolic action. There was also no need to perform re-operation to remove the electronic chips because they have biodegradable qualities that melt away naturally when no longer needed.

According to Gizmodo, the chip's size is smaller than a grain of rice and is made of biodegradable silicon sheets. They can measure swelling, intracranial pressure, and temperature in the brain. In the initial study with the rats, the chips were implanted under the skin on the top of the rats' skulls. 

Washington University neurosurgeon Dr. Rory Murphy told CNN the concept of the new technology. "The ultimate strategy is to have a device that is entirely implanted, intimately connected with the organ you want to monitor and can transmit signals wirelessly, allowing doctors to intervene if necessary to prevent bigger problems. After the critical period that you actually want to monitor, it will dissolve away and disappear" he said. 

Previously, the medical world has seen and used dissolvable medical supplies, but this is the first innovation that deals with electronic chips that can monitors the brain. Usually, the dissolvable supplies are made of collagen such as animal intestines, silk, or hair. On the other hand, this new technology is made of silicone mixed with polylactic-co-glycolic acid (PLGA).

The similar test is likely to be replicated to humans. The team also hope that their improved technology could offer doctors a better-functioning monitoring tool with lower risks of post-surgery infection, among other risks.

In addition to brain monitoring, the chip was also expected to function as a monitoring tool to all other kinds of body parts and conditions without as many risks as they would impose with the previous procedures and technologies.  

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