Under the supervision of Maria Asplund, Lukas Matter investigates the effect of direct current (DC) stimulation on axon regrowth in the spinal cord. Bioelectronic flexible implants are fabricated in the clean room of the University of Freiburg leveraging super capacitive materials and conducting polymers. Hereby, the choice of material is crucial. DC stimulation is challenging for the electrode material potentially leading to the release of cytotoxic byproducts as a consequence of reduction and oxidization of the electrode material. The electroceutical treatment delivered through the implant is tested in a rat model at the University of Auckland in the Group of Darren Svirskis. During his 6 weeks visit, supported by the Wissenschaftliche Gesellschaft Freiburg and CatWalk – Spinal Cord Injury Research Trust, Lukas got insights into implantation and experimental work. This led to a new iteration of the implant design and the connection assembly to the recording and stimulation system, facilitating the work of the new zealand colleagues.
As a highlight the research stay ended with a symposium bringing together stakeholders with a mutual interest in improving the lives of those with spinal cord injuries. Affected individuals shared their emotional stories. Researchers and clinicians afterwards presented their work on finding therapies for spinal cord injury. Between sessions, personal connections to all participants present could be made forming a strong network tackling the challenges of this devastating condition. For more information on the project and the collaboration you can check out a talk Lukas gave within the framework of his stay at the Auckland Bioengineering department here: doi.org/10.52843/cassyni.2vc8wb