New research at MIT, led by Rahul Sarpeshkar, an associate professor of electrical engineering and computer science, has led to the development of glucose-powered implants that could one day help paralysis patients. Glucose-run implants are not a new concept, in fact, a lot of research was done in the 1970s when scientists demonstrated that glucose can be used to run pacemakers in heart patients. But, back then, the votes went in favour of the Li-ion battery as more power could be extracted from them per unit area.
MIT’s prototype glucose-run device contains a silicon chip that uses a platinum (proven to be long term biocompatible). The platinum strips away the electron from the glucose molecule just like in an actual cell acting as the anode to generate ATP whereas the cathode is the single walled carbon nanotubes, again highly biocompatible.
The glucose is taken from the Cerebrospinal Fluid (CSF) which acts like a cushion for the brain inside the skull. As this fluid is not used in the body, it acts a good source of glucose for the device to work. The functioning of the brain will not be affected as the device requires minimal amount of glucose for its functioning. The devices can be made using the existing technology and we could see the these babies in the market in the near future.
The successful implementation of this technology will be a breakthrough in the field of electronic body implants and will pave the way for researchers to go wild with body implants. Lab tests are underway to successfully implement this technology so as to give hope to paralysis patients.
The glucose-power technology might even help you one day get a electronic bodily function monitor that keeps track of your body 24X7,sends a report to your doc and that too without the need of the battery replacement. I want this implant, at least to break my diet. “Sorry honey, these implants don’t power themselves!”