Wed, 04 Oct 2023

MUNICH, May 31, 2023 /PRNewswire/ -- Nearly one in six of the world's population lives with neurological disorders such as Alzheimer's, Parkinson's disease, stroke, epilepsy, or migraines and brain injuries, according to the United Nations. In an effort to improve the quality of life for those affected, Australian researchers Drs. Thomas Oxley and Nicholas Opie invented a brain-computer interface system that transmits data from the brain wirelessly to control external digital devices hands-free, to enable patients with severe paralysis to communicate using their thoughts. The research duo are finalists for the European Inventor Award in the 'Non-EPO Countries' category in recognition of their promising work. 

Australian researchers Drs. Thomas Oxley and Nicholas Opie
Australian researchers Drs. Thomas Oxley and Nicholas Opie

Oxley and Opie's invention, the Synchron Switch, is an endovascular brain implant designed to record or stimulate the brain or nerves from within the blood vessels, the natural highways of the brain. The device is inserted into a blood vessel within the motor cortex, an area of the brain that controls sensory and motor activity. As the Stentrode is inserted via the jugular vein, surgeons can reach the brain region via an endovascular approach, without the need to open a patient's skull and perform invasive brain surgery. The average hospital stay for patients receiving the implant is just 48 hours.

Oxley is a vascular and interventional neurologist and an expert in brain-computer interfaces, and Opie is a biomedical engineer and expert in neural interfaces. Oxley and Opie's collaboration led to the founding of Synchron in 2016, a company specialising in developing implantable neural interfaces for the treatment of neurological disorders. The pair's commitment to patients and combined expertise paved the way to the Stentrode. For the 14 million people worldwide living with neuromuscular disorders (damage to nerves that are responsible for voluntary muscle movement), Oxley and Opie's invention could prove life-changing.

Oxley and Opie have been named among the three finalists in this year's European Inventor Award in the 'Non-EPO Countries' category, which recognises the work of outstanding inventors from outside the EPO's 39 member states but who have been granted a European patent. The winners will be announced at a hybrid ceremony on 4 July 2023 in Valencia (Spain). This ceremony will be broadcast online here and is open to the public.

Find more information about the invention, the technology and the inventors' stories here.


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