An international team led by researchers at the Center for Sensorimotor Neural Engineering (CSNE) based at the University of Washington (UW) is one of three finalists in a race to produce an implantable wireless device that can assess, stimulate and block the activity of nerves that control organs.
For the GlaxoSmithKline Bioelectronics Innovation Challenge, the team is working on an implantable device that could help restore bladder function for people with spinal cord injuries or millions of others who suffer from incontinence.
“For people with spinal cord injuries, restoring sexual function and bladder function are some of their top priorities — higher than regaining the ability to walk,” said Chet Moritz, deputy director of the CSNE and UW associate professor of rehabilitation medicine and of physiology and biophysics.
“The vision is for these neural devices to be as ubiquitous as pacemakers or deep brain stimulators, where a surgeon implants the device and it’s seamless for the patient,” he said. “We’re really excited to make a difference in people’s lives and to help push these technologies forward.”
The CSNE team — one of 11 initially selected by GlaxoSmithKline to compete in the challenge — joined forces with another team of experts from the University of Cambridge and University College London for the second round of the competition. The company will award up to $1 million in additional research funding to each team.