An interdisciplinary team of scientists and engineers at Stanford University is developing a small wireless device to advance the state of the art in chronic pain research. The work builds on existing expertise in the deployment of micro devices that function within the body and are powered remotely. The device would allow researchers to bypass a major hurdle in their current animal study model: the fiber-optic cable used for optogenetics.
Optogenetic research involves genetically engineering nerves in mice to be responsive to light, and offers promise as a new model for studying pain mechanisms. But the cable from which the light is emitted limits the mice’s activities, resulting in an unnatural environment. The wireless device under development would allow the mice to move and socialize freely and, the team asserts, may assist in the design of studies that more closely emulate the human experience with chronic pain. Read a news story about the work here. A press release from the university detailing the work of the Stanford team may be read here.