In the EU, 4.5 million people suffer from Parkinson’s Disease. The related costs of treatments and loss of capable labour are estimated to be EUR 13.9 bn annually. Thus, any relevant improvements of the current treatments are of huge impact. The gold standard treatment for Parkinson’s Disease today is levodopa, precursor of dopamine, which alleviates the major motor symptoms but produces debilitating side-effects and its therapeutic benefit declines over time. Alternatively, surgical therapy with deep brain stimulation offers great potential, but is applied in a limited number of subjects (15%). Deep brain stimulation has been shown to be an effective treatment for motor impairment and prolongs the effective window of levodopa therapy. It is not devoid of significant adverse effects, however, affecting mood and cognition. Optimising deep brain stimulation treatment to patient-specific symptom profiles is often difficult due to lack of cell-type specificity and electrical noise. Optogenetics holds great potential to fill the gaps in the knowledge of the precise design of Parkinson’s Disease circuitry and develop new and improved treatment options that may soon turn out to have clinical relevance. EIC FET-Open project STARDUST aims to lay foundations for a completely new approach to Parkinson’s Disease research and treatment.
STARDUST works towards a miniaturised, wireless, biocompatible implantable deep-brain neurostimulator, which is further integrated with recording electrodes and a drug delivery system for manipulating targeted neurons. STARDUST plans to use batteryless implanted devices powered through ultrasonic waves to illuminate the selected neurons in the brain with LED light while recording the brain activities and delivery drugs. This has never been done before.
If you are interested to know more, please visit STARDUST website.