Biocompatible Retinal Implants

Prototype organic retinal implants are being grown on a photosensitive polymer hybrid by researchers at the Italian Institute of Technology. Retinal implants restore some degree of vision by sending a signal from an external video camera to metal electrodes implanted at the back of the retina. (See this article on the MIT Retinal Implant and the 'Bionic Eye' Argus II Retinal Implant for more information).

The Guglielmo Lanzani lab grew neural cells in a petri dish directly on top of the polymer. Light shined on the polymer activates the photodiodes, which stimulate individual neurons much the way light-sensitive photoreceptor cells in a healthy eye cause neurons to fire. (In contrast, the Argus II stimulates up to hundreds of thousands of neurons at one go.) Developed further, the Lanzani approach could lead to a retinal implant that produces much clearer vision.

The researchers grew rat embryonic hippocampal neurons on a substrate consisting of photodiodes made of indium tin oxide coated with a layer of photoconducting organic polymer, and another organic layer that functioned as an adhesive. The rat neurons and the diodes were immersed in an ionic solution. The diodes, when activated by light, triggered a charge imbalance in the ionic solution, which caused the neurons to fire.

Next, Lanzani plans to use printing techniques to position the photodiodes on the device precisely, more closely mimicking the geometry of the photoreceptor cells in the human retina. He says the photodiodes could be color-sensitized, to produce images in color rather than just black and white.


(Hippocampal neural cells)
stained green with a fluorescent dye are grown
on a light-sensitive base

If you can grow a biocompatible retinal implant, sooner or later you'll want to make your own complete eyes. Science fiction fans have been on the lookout for artificial eyes ever since we saw them in Ridley Scott's 1982 film Blade Runner. A genetic designer of eyes has an unpleasant meeting with replicants who interrupt his lab work.


(Genetic design of eyes from Blade Runner)

SF fans also remember the Nikon eyes from Neuromancer:

Case turned his head and looked up into Wage's face. It was a tanned and forgettable mask. The eyes were vatgrown sea-green Nikon transplants.
(Read more about Gibson's Nikon eyes)

Via Technology Review.

Scroll down for more stories in the same category. (Story submitted 2/8/2011)

Follow this kind of news @Technovelgy.

| Email | RSS | Blog It | Stumble | del.icio.us | Digg | Reddit |

Would you like to contribute a story tip? It's easy:
Get the URL of the story, and the related sf author, and add it here.

Comment/Join discussion ( 0 )

Related News Stories - (" Medical ")

You'll Regrow That Limb, One Day
'... forcing the energy transfer which allowed him to regrow his lost fingers.' - Frank Herbert, 1972.

First 3D Printed Human Corneas From Stem Cells
Just what we need! Lots of spare parts.

Nanorobots Roam Your Bloodstream, Cleaning It
Too bad they won't have lasers, though...

MIT Ampli Blocks Build Biomedical Devices
Damn it Spock, I'm a doctor not an engineer!

 

Google
  Web TechNovelgy.com   

Technovelgy (that's tech-novel-gee!) is devoted to the creative science inventions and ideas of sf authors. Look for the Invention Category that interests you, the Glossary, the Invention Timeline, or see what's New.

 

 

 

 

 

Current News

Ontario Starts Guaranteed Minimum Income
'Earned by just being born.'

Is There Life In Outer Space? Will We Recognize It?
'The antennae of the Life Detector atop the OP swept back and forth...'

Space Traumapod For Surgery In Spacecraft
' It was a ... coffin, form-fitted to Nessus himself...'

Tesla Augmented Reality Hypercard
'The hypercard is an avatar of sorts.'

A Space Ship On My Back
''Darn clever, these suits,' he murmured.'

Biomind AI Doctor Mops Floor With Human Doctors
'My aim was just not to lose by too much.' - Human Physician participant.

Fuli Bad Dog Robot Is 'Auspicious Raccoon Dog' Bot
Bad dog, Fuli. Bad dog.

Las Vegas Humans Ready To Strike Over Robots
'A worker replaced by a nubot... had to be compensated.'

You'll Regrow That Limb, One Day
'... forcing the energy transfer which allowed him to regrow his lost fingers.'

Elon Musk Seeks To Create 1941 Heinlein Speedster
'The car surged and lifted, clearing its top by a negligible margin.'

Somnox Sleep Robot - Your Sleepytime Cuddlebot
Science fiction authors are serious about sleep, too.

Real-Life Macau or Ghost In The Shell
Art imitates life imitates art.

Has Climate Change Already Been Solved By Aliens?
'I had explained," said Nessus, "that our civilisation was dying in its own waste heat.'

First 3D Printed Human Corneas From Stem Cells
Just what we need! Lots of spare parts.

VirtualHome: Teaching Robots To Do Chores Around The House
'Just what did I want Flexible Frank to do? - any work a human being does around a house.'

Messaging Extraterrestrial Intelligence (METI) Workshop
SF writers have thought about this since the 19th century.

More SF in the News Stories

More Beyond Technovelgy science news stories

Home | Glossary | Invention Timeline | Category | New | Contact Us | FAQ | Advertise |
Technovelgy.com - where science meets fiction™

Copyright© Technovelgy LLC; all rights reserved.