In the condition of overactive bladder, it is tough to control the urge to urinate, which may result in involuntary urination, called urge incontinence. However, researchers have come up with new technology that uses the tiny light-emitting device as its treatment.
FREMONT, CA: The modern day’s neurostimulators, like the ones utilized for controlling chronic pain, depression, and bladder incontinence, make use of electricity to activate nerves. Since it is very effective in numerous patients, electrical stimulation can result in inflammation, generate undesired sensations and pain, and harm fragile issues. Optogenetics is a concept that offers an alternative and probably safer option that depends on light and light-sensitive proteins for activating individual neural cells.
For making it a reality, researchers at Washington University in St. Louis, the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, and Northwestern University joined hands to create a soft and flexible wireless implant that does the job of sensing the movements of an overactive bladder and provides light for bringing it under control.
The new device supports LEDs that put light on the nerve. A virus is used for delivering opsin proteins, which are sensitive to light, into the nerve cells in the bladder. The shape of the implant is like a belt, which is wrapped around the bladder. It can sense the bladder as it contracts and expands. The device makes use of Bluetooth wireless connectivity for relaying its readings to an outside computer, which is able to detect when the bladder is required to be stimulated and notifies the implant to switch on its LEDs. This further zaps the cells, and prevent them from sending those messages to the brain
The new implant emphasizes on a particular area and does not affect the surrounding nerves. Besides, it targets a certain area when required.
Though the implant is remarkable and has proved to be effective in lab rats, the overall technology still needs the delivery of proteins utilizing viruses, the security of which will need years of pre-clinical and clinical trials. Nevertheless, possessing a working, proof-of-concept model of the complete therapeutic system has a long way to go to help bring all this to reality.