Researchers in Scotland are part of a new project which is setting out to develop tiny injectable robots capable of predicting and mitigating epileptic seizures.

The project, called CROSSBRAIN, is led by Tor Vergata University of Rome in Italy and includes a team at the University of Glasgow.

Over the course of the next four years, the CROSSBRAIN collaborators will develop implantable ‘microbots’, about a tenth of a millimetre in size, made from advanced nanomaterials with specially-tailored physical properties.

Once implanted in the brain, they will be controlled by a small, wearable central control unit capable of monitoring electrical activity to detect the onset of a seizure and modulate its effect through targeted neurostimulation.

The microbots will be able to deliver genetic material on command, enabling cell and microcircuit level neuromodulation in rodent brains during the later stages of the project’s development.

Cutting-edge technology to be developed at Glasgow University

Professor Hadi Heidari, of the University of Glasgow’s James Watt School of Engineering, is leading the UK contribution to CROSSBRAIN.

Professor Heidari’s Microelectronics Lab conducts pioneering research on integrated micro and nanoelectronics design for medical and industrial applications. 

In this project – which is funded by the European Innovation Council – the Microelectronics Lab will help to design and develop the microbots’ wireless power and data management and delivery systems.

The CROSSBRAIN team will develop an FBAR magnetoelectric antenna at the cleanroom facilities of the university’s James Watt Nanofabrication Centre.

Professor Hadi Heidari. Supplied/University of Glasgow.

Professor Heidari said: “We’re pleased to be part of this ambitious project, which has the potential to pave the way for transformative treatments for pathological brain conditions like epilepsy.

“CROSSBRAIN brings together leading researchers from across Europe, with a wide range of expertise in bioengineering, artificial intelligence, nanomaterial design and fabrication, and medical physics. I’m looking forward to collaborating with my colleagues to develop this exciting technology in the years to come.”

Professor Muhammad Imran, director of the University of Glasgow’s Communications, Sensing and Imaging Hub, is also lending his support on wireless power and data transmission.

Other partners in the CROSSBRAIN project include SISSA International School of Advanced Studies of Trieste in Italy and Friedrich Alexander University in Germany.