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All-Polymer Printed Low-Cost Regenerative Nerve Cuff Electrodes

  • Ferrari, Laura M.1, 2, 3
  • Rodríguez-Meana, Bruno4
  • Bonisoli, Alberto1, 2
  • Cutrone, Annarita2
  • Micera, Silvestro2, 5
  • Navarro, Xavier4
  • Greco, Francesco1, 6, 7
  • del Valle, Jaume4
  • 1 Center for Micro-BioRobotics @SSSA, Istituto Italiano di Tecnologia, Pontedera , (Italy)
  • 2 The BioRobotics Institute and Department of Excellence in Robotics and AI, Scuola Superiore Sant'Anna, Pontedera , (Italy)
  • 3 Université Côte d'Azur, INRIA, Sophia Antipolis , (France)
  • 4 Department of Cell Biology, Physiology and Immunology, Institute of Neurosciences, Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona, and CIBERNED, Bellaterra , (Spain)
  • 5 Bertarelli Foundation Chair in Translational NeuroEngineering, Center for Neuroprosthetics and Institute of Bioengineering, Ecole Polytechnique Federale de Lausanne, Lausanne , (Switzerland)
  • 6 Institute of Solid State Physics, NAWI Graz, Graz University of Technology, Graz , (Austria)
  • 7 Department of Life Science and Medical Bioscience, Graduate School of Advanced Science and Engineering, Waseda University, Tokyo , (Japan)
Published Article
Frontiers in Bioengineering and Biotechnology
Frontiers Media SA
Publication Date
Feb 10, 2021
DOI: 10.3389/fbioe.2021.615218
  • Bioengineering and Biotechnology
  • Original Research


Neural regeneration after lesions is still limited by several factors and new technologies are developed to address this issue. Here, we present and test in animal models a new regenerative nerve cuff electrode (RnCE). It is based on a novel low-cost fabrication strategy, called “Print and Shrink”, which combines the inkjet printing of a conducting polymer with a heat-shrinkable polymer substrate for the development of a bioelectronic interface. This method allows to produce miniaturized regenerative cuff electrodes without the use of cleanroom facilities and vacuum based deposition methods, thus highly reducing the production costs. To fully proof the electrodes performance in vivo we assessed functional recovery and adequacy to support axonal regeneration after section of rat sciatic nerves and repair with RnCE. We investigated the possibility to stimulate the nerve to activate different muscles, both in acute and chronic scenarios. Three months after implantation, RnCEs were able to stimulate regenerated motor axons and induce a muscular response. The capability to produce fully-transparent nerve interfaces provided with polymeric microelectrodes through a cost-effective manufacturing process is an unexplored approach in neuroprosthesis field. Our findings pave the way to the development of new and more usable technologies for nerve regeneration and neuromodulation.

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