SALT LAKE CITY, May 13, 2021 /PRNewswire/ — Blackrock Microsystems, a privately held company that provides enabling tools for neuroscience, neural engineering and neuroprosthetics research worldwide partnered with a team of interdisciplinary researchers at Northwestern University, who signed a contract with the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) to develop a wireless, fully implantable device that can shift the body’s circadian clock, halving the time it takes to recover from disrupted sleep/wake cycles. The device powers what will be considered a “living pharmacy,” a personalized implant that gives the body exactly what it needs at a precise time.
Called NTRAIN (Normalizing Timing of Rhythms Across Internal Networks of Circadian Clocks), the project is a part the Advanced Acclimation and Protection Tool for Environmental Readiness (ADAPTER) program, DARPA’s new initiative to help address the challenges of travel, including jet lag, fatigue, gastrointestinal issues and weakened immune response.
The collaborative effort leverages circadian clock research from sleep experts at Northwestern’s Center for Sleep and Circadian Biology (CSCB), synthetic biologists from Rice University, and a cross-functional team of engineers from Blackrock Microsystems and Northwestern, Rice, and Carnegie Mellon Universities to develop the bioelectronic components.
Combining synthetic biology with bioelectronics, the research and development teams will engineer cells to produce the same peptides that the body makes to regulate sleep cycles, precisely adjusting timing and dose with bioelectronic controls. When the engineered cells are exposed to light, they will generate precisely-dosed peptide therapies.
“Our research partners come up with game-changing, innovative ideas. And it’s even better to see that DARPA is funding this effort – we feel privileged to be the company that will make it work and then look to applying it to other diseases and treatments,” said Florian Solzbacher, Co-founder & Chairman of Blackrock Microsystems.
“We are effectively building the bridge between biology and bioelectronics – the potential is limitless. Imagine if we can use this platform to treat other neurological disorders? We are proud to be a part of the growing team of science, electronics and biology experts being assembled to bring a “living pharmacy” to life.”
While this application is for the military and first responders, this is a huge step forward in translating this technology into the general population and all patients. People who suffer from negative effects from traveling long distances or working long or irregular hours, which can take a toll on mental health, could also benefit from this technology. Blackrock Microsystems, in collaboration with the research teams, can make great strides in reducing the mental effects of these workplace issues.
“Collaboration is in our DNA. The research comes first, so we welcome and foster collaborative partnerships,” noted Professor Solzbacher. “From collaboration comes innovation.”
About Blackrock Microsystems
Blackrock Microsystems’ mission is to provide innovative tools and neurotech expertise to translate technology into novel, implantable clinical solutions that improve human lives. Blackrock’s precision electrode technology is at the core of many worldwide innovations in Brain-Computer-Interfaces (BCI) and through neural signal processing and stimulation has enabled BCI Pioneers to SeeAgain, HearAgain, MoveAgain, and TalkAgain.
For more information, please visit www.blackrockmicro.com
On behalf of Blackrock Microsystems