An artificial vision prosthesis has been successfully implanted in a patient in the US, an advance that could restore partial vision in people who have lost their sight.
The Intracortical Visual Prosthesis (ICVP)an implant that bypasses the retina and optic nerves to connect directly to the brain’s visual cortex has been surgically implanted in the ICVP study‘s first attendee at Rush University Medical Center this week (February 14-20). The surgery is part of a Phase I feasibility study of an intracortical visual prosthesis for people with blindness.
The ICVP system was developed by a multi-institutional team led by Philip R. Troyk, Executive Director of the Pritzker Institute of Biomedical Science and Engineering Bee Illinois Institute of Technologyprofessor of biomedical engineering, and represents the culmination of nearly three decades of Illinois Tech research dedicated to providing artificial vision to people with blindness due to eye disease or trauma.
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Illinois Tech said the intracortical visual prosthesis system is the first intracortical visual implant to use a group of fully implanted miniaturized wireless stimulators to investigate whether individuals with blindness can use the artificial vision provided by this approach.
This visual prosthetic system allows devices to be permanently implanted, giving researchers ample time to explore how the device can work effectively, and for the recipient to learn how the device can be useful.
During the preclinical phase, the Illinois Tech team collaborated with neurosurgeons at Rush University Medical Center in Chicago to develop and refine surgical procedures, culminating in the implantation of 25 stimulators with a total of 400 electrodes in a person with blindness. The clinical phase aims to test whether this prosthesis will provide study participants with an improved ability to navigate and perform basic, visually guided tasks. Testing starts at Chicago Lighthouse after a recovery period of four to six weeks.
“This is an incredibly exciting moment not only for the biomedical engineering field, but more importantly for people with blindness and their loved ones around the world,” Troyk said in a statement.
Many individuals with total blindness do not have an intact retina or optic nerves, but retain the visual cortex, so an intracortical visual prosthesis may be the only possible advanced visual sensory aid they can benefit from.
The brain receives millions of nerve signals from the eyes, but when the eyes are no longer able to communicate with the brain, Troyk said researchers “can intervene by bypassing the eye and the optic nerve and going straight to the area of the brain.” that the visual cortex.”
“This surgery represents a critical step in decades of research by our entire ICVP team in our effort to bring vision to blind patients,” said Dr. Richard Byrne, the neurosurgeon at Rush University Medical Center who performed the surgery.
Illinois Tech partners with Rush University Medical Center, The Chicago Lighthouse; the Wilmer Eye Institute at Johns Hopkins; the University of Texas at Dallas; Microprobes for Life Science; Sigenics, Inc.; and the University of Chicago on the initiative, with Troyk as principal investigator.
“For people who are completely blind, getting even a little bit of light perception can make a huge difference,” said Janet P. Szlyk, President and CEO of The Chicago Lighthouse. “The findings of this study will pave the way for other groundbreaking advances in blindness screening and vision restoration.”
Financing for this study was provided by the US National Institutes of Health’s Brain research by promoting innovative neurotechnologies (BRAIN) Initiative, the United States Department of Defense and from private donors.