In science fiction movies, some amputees are equipped with incredibly efficient bionic prostheses that enable them to accomplish everyday gestures as any valid person would. Presently, the very best equipment that can be offered to amputees is still far from what we can see in movies.
We decided to create a universal biological interface that would be able to connect the residual nerves from the amputees’ limbs to the prostheses.
We came up with the idea of coating the implants with a genetically engineered biofilm. Bacteria secreting neurotrophins (e.g. proNGF) from the interface will help the nerves grow back towards the prosthesis.
With this innovation came the necessity to have the device surgically osseointegrated to the patient.
This opened our minds to a huge challenge with orthopedic implants: infectious biofilms. They frequently develop around implants and cause heavy infections, very resistant to antibiotics. Our strategy concentrates efforts on fighting against S. aureus, by disturbing the quorum sensing. This mechanism regulates and coordinates the biofilm’s architecture and the production of toxins and virulence factors.
We decided to tackle both problems, connection and protection, at the same time using synthetic biology to add a barrier of protection against pathogenic bacteria directly into our device.
We designed this interface as something that could become the new standard, something that would then be connected to any bionic prosthesis, and that would allow a much greater control of movements. We mixed synthetic biology with disciplines like physics and industrial design to come up with the following prototype.
Since we began working on NeuronArch, we have all endeavored to make it become something real. We hope you will have as much fun discovering our project through our wiki as we had making it.
- P. F. Pasquina, B. N. Perry, M. E. Miller, G. S. F. Ling, and J. W. Tsao, “Recent advances in bioelectric prostheses,” Neurol. Clin. Pract., vol. 5, no. 2, pp. 164–170, Apr. 2015.
- R. O. Darouiche, “Treatment of Infections Associated with Surgical Implants,”N. Engl. J. Med., vol. 350, no. 14, pp. 1422–1429, Apr. 2004. .
- S. S. Magill et al., “Multistate Point-Prevalence Survey of Health Care–Associated Infections,” N. Engl. J. Med., vol. 370, no. 13, pp. 1198–1208, 2014.