A Meeting of the Minds
Although NeuroLux was founded in 2015, the core technology represents the outcome of a development effort that began in the spring of 2011 as a collaboration between the research groups of Professors John Rogers, Robert Gereau, and Michael Bruchas.
The goal was to consider technology solutions to the severe limitations and practical difficulties associated with standard fiber optic approaches for optogenetic studies, by leveraging emerging capabilities in soft, biocompatible devices under development in the Rogers group.
The outcome was a concept in ultra-miniaturized, flexible optoelectronic systems capable of implantation into targeted brain regions with wireless power delivery and control.
Developing the Technology
An intense, collaborative effort yielded an initial technology with all of the right attributes for this application, as described in Science in early 2013. An invited paper in Nature Protocols (2013) reported all of the fine details of the technology, including step-by-step procedures in fabrication and operation. Follow-on research included further development of devices and continued improvement of the technology through significant miniaturization (Journal of Neural Engineering, 2015) enabled by advanced antenna designs and operating frequencies. These advancements motivated a fundamental shift in wireless strategy and device design to a magnetic, near-field coupling scheme and a planar architecture. Extensive trials in the Bruchas, Gereau and Rhodes labs through the summer and fall of 2015 demonstrated an exceptionally high level of usability and robustness in operation; initial conversations and prototype run with manufacturers in the flexible printed circuit board industry convinced us of the potential to identify low-cost production schemes.
These new concepts, initiated in the summer of 2015 and demonstrated live in a booth at the Society for Neuroscience (SfN) annual meeting in October 2015, leveraged the substantial consumer technology base in near field communications (NFC) for wireless payments, RFID tags, and other commodity electronics.
The tremendously positive response from neuroscientists at the SfN event led to the launch of NeuroLux as an entity for translating the technology from our academic labs to widespread commercial distribution to the research community.
Details of the base NeuroLux technology was published and featured in Neuron (2017), with two subsequent studies reported in PAIN (2017) and Nature Scientific Reports (2017) demonstrating the versatility of the core technology for optogenetic research in the spinal cord and bladder. Continued research and development has expanded the technology’s capabilities into wireless drug delivery and physiological recording, the results of which are routinely published in high-impact journal articles.