Despite their highly promising potential, the possibilities offered by micro and nanotechnology as well as electronics are insufficiently exploited in medicine, notably in three fields: neurodegenerative diseases, brain cancer and motor disabilities due to spinal injuries (paraplegics and quadriplegics).
Deliver treatment thanks to implantable medical devices
In line with our research on deep brain stimulation, our development of implanted medical devices could well revolutionize the diagnosis and treatment of certain neurodegenerative diseases. Concerning Parkinson’s disease, near-infrared light could be transmitted via optic fibres and delivered to the appropriate neurons in order to protect them.
Nowadays, with special training, it has become possible to mentally control a computer mouse, a wheelchair or a robotic arm. However, for the moment, this requires that quadriplegic patients be connected to cumbersome electronic devices. Only implantable devices will give them back their freedom.
Explore and treat microenvironments
Cancer specialists are increasingly interested in the tissues located around tumours as they might hold the key to preventing recurrences. Scientists want to know how and why healthy tissue “accepts” the presence of tumoral cells.
Much remains to be discovered concerning the mechanisms involved in neurodegenerative diseases. Imaging has allowed us to observe. However, to invent the targeted therapies we need, we must improve our biological knowledge by directly accessing the tissues.
This exploration of unknown territories is a challenge on the scale of the exploration of the most distant planets. The development of innovative miniaturized exploration systems with limited adverse effects will open up a major field for the treatment of patients suffering from cancer of neurodegenerative diseases. The delivery of potent drugs directly to diseased tissues demands extreme accuracy if one is to avoid harming healthy and functional surrounding tissue. One of our objectives is to develop a perfectly controlled pump and catheter to deliver drugs to the diseased sites.
Discover new biomarkers
Indicators of certain diseases can be found in biological fluids before any symptom becomes apparent, which paves the way for early therapy and prevention. Being able to detect the presence of a disease and its response to treatment using a plain blood sample opens great perspectives for the care of patients suffering from cancer and neurodegenerative diseases; once again, micro- and nanotechnologies now offer unequalled solutions to capture and analyse traces of a disease at a stage where it used to be undetectable beforehand.
Medical breakthroughs require considerable time
Yes and no. Many of the patients concerned (quadriplegics, patients with Parkinson’s disease or brain tumours such as glioblastoma, etc.) are stuck today in what doctors call : “therapeutic deadlocks”. Based on these first examples, Clinatec aims to demonstrate that, after doing wonders in the field of data processing, electronics, micro- and nanotechnology could now revolutionize medicine and rapidly provide these patients with solution. These achievements based on electronics, micro- and nanotechnology are the building blocs of a broader medical revolution which will benefit millions of patient.