2016 Ignite Project: THEIA

Towards the implementation of a multi-electrode array for retinal prosthesis

Project overview

THEIA was awarded the BIST Ignite Grant (phase 1) in March, 2017 (news release here), as well as the BIST Ignite Grant (phase 2) in December 2017 (news release here).

THEIA combines the expertise and experience of BIST centers in microscopy, graphene and medical instrumentation to develop a new generation of retinal prostheses based on MEA (multi-electrode array) graphene devices. The high photosensitivity of the material will allow great improvements to the vision of people treated with this type of technology, now very limited by the small number of electrodes that can be implanted in one of the current retinal chips. Graphene also offers advantages such as flexibility, biocompatibility, and transparency. The project, in which the Barraquer Ophthalmological Center is participating, aims to have a proof of concept ready for this new chip in three years.

Multidisciplinarity within THEIA

The experiments in this project will receive input from all partners of the project. A multidisciplinary approach will be implemented through sharing specific tasks (ICN2 will be the main contributor to the implementation of the graphene based MEA, IFAE will be mainly involved in the implementation of the electronic controller for the MEA, ICFO will be in charge of the microscopy experiments, and the Barraquer Ophthalmological Center will be the clinical partner) as well as sharing know-how through a series of presentations and talks.

Progress: updated abstract as of December 2017

In this project we have combined the expertise of three BIST partners (ICFO, ICN2, and IFAE) in the field of microscopy, graphene, and medical instrumentation towards the development of the next generation of retinal prosthesis technology. Retinal prostheses have recently been developed to restore useful vision to individuals blinded by outer retinal diseases such as retinitis pigmentosa. The quality of vision restored is limited by the number, size, and material of electrodes used in currently available prostheses, as well as the distance of the electrodes to the retina. In the BIST Ignite Seeding stage we have integrated novel graphene-based microelectrode technology, custom stimulation electronics, and in vitro calcium imaging to interrogate the spatiotemporal response of retinal ganglion cells to electrical stimulation in efforts to determine the optimal stimulation configuration that will produce high quality vision for patients.

Project members

Pablo Loza-Álvarez

Group Leader at ICFO

Jose A. Garrido

ICREA Research Professor and Group Leader at ICN2

Mokhtar Chmeissani

Group Leader at IFAE

Maria Marsal

Post-doctoral Fellow at ICFO

Steven Walston

Post-doctoral Fellow at ICN2

Jose Gabriel Macias

Microelectronics Engineer at IFAE

Institutional Members of the Board of Trustees