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Prog Neurobiol. 1998 Aug;55(5):433-61.

Implantable bioelectric interfaces for lost nerve functions.

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University Eye Hospital M√ľnster, Experimental Ophthalmology, Germany.


Neuronal cells are unique within the organism. In addition to forming long-distance connections with other nerve cells and non-neuronal targets, they lose the ability to regenerate their neurites and to divide during maturation. Consequently, external violations like trauma or disease frequently lead to their disappearance and replacement by non-neuronal, and thus not properly functioning cells. The advent of microtechnology and construction of artificial implants prompted to create particular devices for specialised regions of the nervous system, in order to compensate for the loss of function. The scope of the present work is to review the current devices in connection with their applicability and functional perspectives. (1) Successful implants like the cochlea implant and peripherally implantable stimulators are discussed. (2) Less developed and not yet applicable devices like retinal or cortical implants are introduced, with particular emphasis given to the reasons for their failure to replace very complex functions like vision. (3) Material research is presented both from the technological aspect and from their biocompatibility as prerequisite of any implantation. (4) Finally, basic studies are presented, which deal with methods of shaping the implants, procedures of testing biocompatibility and modification of improving the interfaces between a technical device and the biological environment. The review ends by pointing to future perspectives in neuroimplantation and restoration of interrupted neuronal pathways.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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