Close up of human eye with a faint circuit board appearing in the iris

Implantable neuroprosthesis

Restoring lost function using medical bionics
Focusing on the delivery of therapeutic electrical stimuli and sensing of biological signals to deliver new solutions to recover lost function following disease or injury.

Our research is at the forefront of a new era of sensory and motor function rehabilitation through technological therapies, to support a world where people can live longer, more active lives. 

Our research

Our experts: Professor Gregg Suaning
Collaborators: Westmead Hospital, University of New South Wales, University of Western Sydney
Industry partners: Cochlear, Save Sight Institute

Nicknamed the Phoenix99 Bionic Eye System, our research will be using our developed technology to test a fully implantable device which will significantly increase the number of stimulation channels to improve patterned vision as an aid to mobility.

This technology has been developed from a unique approach of placing an array of stimulating electrodes in the supra-choroidal space within the eye. This allowed patients with advanced cases of retinitis pigmentosa to see phosphenes – spots of light – that can be arranged to form patterned vision where there was once darkness.

Our experts: Professor Gregg Suaning
Collaborators: Sydney Nano Institute, Associate Professor Wojciech Chrzanowski, Professor Marcela Bilek, Professor Robyn Jamieson, Dr Steven Wise, Professor Zdenka Kuncic

Using the capacity of neural biology, electrical stimulation and nanotechnology, we aim to transform and restore neurons from a state of disease or dysfunction to a state of robust performance indistinguishable from normal function. We achieve this by approaching the problem from three novel and distinct directions:

1. Regrowth of the neuron utilising stem cells with their differentiation mediated by electrical stimulation. Research in collaboration with Associate Professor Wojciech Chrzanowski.

2. Redeployment of existing neural cell functionality through gene transfection utilising nanoparticle delivery vectors and electrophoresis. Research in collaboration with Professors Marcela Bilek and Robyn Jamieson, and Dr Steven Wise.

3. Establishment of synthetic neural synapses utilising neuromorphic nanowires to replace lost neural function that cannot otherwise be established through biological means. Research in collaboration with Professor Zdenka Kuncic.

Our experts: Professor Gregg Suaning
Collaborators: ARC Industrial Transformation Training Centre for Innovative Bionegineering

Loss of bone density, reduced vascularisation, and muscle atrophy are limitations associated withosseointegration on large limbs in amputees. Recovery from surgery is slowed for want of a method to stimulate and monitor the regeneration of these tissues, and mechanical loading of the limb needs to be cautious due to the unknown bone porosity recovery status.

In this research, we draw upon and extend our bionic eye research to design a safe, lifetime-implantable bionic device with a hermetically sealed enclosure integrating electric feedthroughs, inductive charging, and data link to create new means of measuring metabolic markers such as oxygen saturation and electromyography.

These measurements will help indicate successful tissue regrowth and integration as well as providing means of monitoring the intended movement of an artificial limb. Further measurement approaches will indicate factors that influence the healing process such as osteoporosis, implant fatigue, wear, and mechanical stimulation.

Our experts: Professor Gregg Suaning
Collaborators: ARC Industrial Transformation Training Centre for Innovative Bionegineering
Industry partner: Ti2 Medical

Current bioinstrumentation for monitoring electrical activity in musculoskeletal tissue is bulky and requires the use of gel electrodes that cannot be worn in the long term. We are working with our industry partner, Ti2 Medical to integrate bioimpedance measurement into ‘smart’ bandages, tailored to measure changes in electrical conductivity, permittivity, and anisotropy associated with changes in muscle fibres, and vessels within bone.