On July 6, 2022, Mount Sinai’s Shahram Majidi threaded Synchron‘s 1.5-inch-long, wire and electrode implant into a blood vessel in the brain of a patient with ALS. The goal is for the patient, who cannot speak or move, to be able to surf the web and communicate via email and text, with his thoughts.
Four patients in Australia have already received the Synchron implant. They have not had side effects, and have been able to send WhatsApp messages and make online purchases.
The “Stentrode” device can be inserted into the brain without cutting through a person’s skull or damaging tissue. An incision is made in the neck, and the stentrode is fed, via catheter, through the jugular vein, into a blood vessel within the motor cortex. As the catheter is removed, the stentrode opens and begins to fuse with the outer edges of the vessel. The procedure takes a few minutes.
A second procedure connects the stentrode to a computing device in the patient’s chest, with a wire. A surgeon creates a tunnel for the wire and a pocket for the device underneath the patient’s skin, similar to a pacemaker procedure. The stentrode reads neuron signals, and the computing device amplifies them and sends them to a computer or phone via Bluetooth.
Synchron aims to shrink the size of its devices, and increase their computing power. It hopes to be able to place numerous stentrodes in different parts of the brain, allowing the patient toperform more functions.
The company was founded by Dr. Thomas Oxley, who will be a featured speaker at ApplySci’s Deep Tech Health + Neurotech conference at MIT on September 30, 2022.