Bionic Implant To Treat Schizophrenia?


No new research in 50 years regarding the treatment of schizophrenia? Think again! 

Browsing scientific articles (as you do in the holidays), I stumbled across the most curious article on treating mental illness in development through bionic implants into the brains frontal lobe. Professor Xu-Feng Huang, a researcher at the University of Wollongong, has taken on the challenge, and specifically deals with the illness of schizophrenia. 

Schizophrenia is a mental condition that is caused by structural anomalies in the brain that stop the neurons communicating and functioning normally. Other factors, such as environment and genetics, also play a role in the “creation” of this abnormality whilst the brain is developing. Typical symptoms of schizophrenia include hearing voices and hallucinating. It occurs in around 1% of the worldwide population. 

Huang’s big idea is to construct a device made out of organic polymers that will successfully stimulate muscle and nerve tissue through the use of electrodes. This will regulate the stimulation of neurons to alleviate the symptoms of schizophrenia and other mental disorders. With the use of 3D printing technology, proteins can be embedded into the device to allow for healthy cell development in the “biologically active” plastic device. Pretty amazing hey?

What’s making this idea so popular however is the cheap cost and the decrease in side effects that you’d usually see when using antipsychotic medications. A lot of these medications generally have some pretty serious side effects that come along with them, such as loss of white blood cells, tremors, rapid heart rate, dizziness and blurred vision. In positive light of the implant, it’ll treat the root of the problem. 

Although this all sounds like a good idea, testing hasn’t even started yet. It’s all well and good to say it sounds like a great idea, but there’s so many other factors to consider. Even if it does prove to be scientifically successful…there’s mountains to test and even consider before releasing it freely for human use. Like most things in science, these things take time. 

Perhaps this is a new beginning in treating mental illness.