Cookies on this website

We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. If you click 'Accept all cookies' we'll assume that you are happy to receive all cookies and you won't see this message again. If you click 'Reject all non-essential cookies' only necessary cookies providing core functionality such as security, network management, and accessibility will be enabled. Click 'Find out more' for information on how to change your cookie settings.

Researchers at Oxford University have received a prestigious Wellcome Innovator Grant for investigating the role of the pedunculopontine nucleus (PPN) – a brainstem nucleus – in human consciousness.

The study is a collaboration between Neurosurgery (Associate Professor Alex Green at the Nuffield Department of Surgical Sciences, NDS), Engineering (Professor Tim Denison at the Department of Engineering Science and the MRC Brain Network Dynamics Unit), and Neurology (Dr Damian Jenkins at the Nuffield Department of Clinical Neurosciences). It builds on pilot data from Dr Alceste Deli who, during her DPhil, has shown that PPN stimulation can alter sleep and arousal states.

The project will involve a 10-subject first-in-man clinical trial of PPN stimulation in patients with minimally conscious state (MCS) following brain injury (trauma or stroke) and will involve further development of a Deep Brain Stimulation investigational system called the ‘Picostim-DyNeuMo’ that was developed in a strategic collaboration between Professor Denison and Bioinduction, Ltd, a UK-based company developing implantable medical devices. The Picostim-DyNeuMo embeds instrumentation that enables novel clinical neuroscience using therapeutic neurostimulators.

The research team aim to identify biomarkers that signify arousal state, within the brain and on EEG, and to develop ‘closed-loop’ stimulation patterns that optimise increased arousal and improve sleep. The device will also take into account circadian rhythms that are often disrupted in patients with MCS.

The trial will be supported by the Surgical Intervention Trials Unit (SITU) at NDS (Ms Lucy Davies) and there will be an ethical component led by Professor Julian Savulescu at the Oxford Martin School. Dr Martin Gillies from NDS will also be involved in the running of the project.

 

The patients in the trial will be implanted with Deep Brain Stimulating electrodes (connected to an Implantable Pulse Generator) into the PPN (brainstem) and signals from the brain (local field potentials), EEG (electroencephalogram) and other signals, such as physical activity, will be used to control the system in a ‘closed loop’ manner.

Similar stories

New insights gained into how the brain encodes information about the world

Scientists have developed a new way to test the theory that active neurons can change what they signal in the world, rather than keeping a stable correspondence to things (such as a features of an object, or ideas).

Oxford and Quinnipiac researchers discuss integrated clinical care, education, and research in multiple sclerosis

Mount Sinai Rehabilitation Hospital's Mandell Center for Multiple Sclerosis Care and Neuroscience Research welcomed University of Oxford partners in September. Stakeholders from University of Oxford and Quinnipiac University met to discuss ongoing research and future opportunities to develop a Mandell MS Center concept of care in the UK.

Royal Academy of Engineering Research Fellowship

Dr Rezvan Farahibozorg has received one of 17 Royal Academy of Engineering Research Fellowships for 2022.

Three New Professors

Many congratulations to the following members of our Department who have been awarded the title of Professor in the recent Recognition of Distinction round.

Repurposed drug could help patients with motor neuron disease

A drug typically used to treat enlarged prostates and high blood pressure has shown promise as a potential new therapy for motor neuron disease (MND), according to a new study.

Finding out more about Parkinson’s by monitoring symptoms at home

Professor Chrystalina Antoniades explains how the COVID pandemic accelerated an innovation in one research project into Parkinson's Disease.