Collaborative Research Centre 1270/2 ELAINE - Electrically Active Implants


European populations are ageing rapidly. By the year 2060, every third person living in Germany will be older than 65. For this reason, the social and socio-economic relevance of regenerative therapies is clearly increasing. This holds particularly true for implants: the older the population grows, the more medical implants for various indication areas are required and the more often they have to be replaced during the course of therapy. The research vision pursued by the Collaborative Research Centre (CRC) focuses on novel electrically active implants. Specifically, we address implants employed for the regeneration of bone and cartilage, and implants for deep brain stimulation to treat movement disorders.

The first objective is to establish innovative energy autonomous implants that allow a feedback-controlled electrical stimulation. Thus, we will pave the ground for new long-time medical applications, and individual patient treatment by conceiving an ultra-low power, miniaturised implant electronic platform supporting all electrically active implants being considered in ELAINE.

A second objective is efficient multi-scale simulation models to enable rapid progress in targeted implant improvements and patient-specific therapies.
Here, new methods in the simulation of biomaterial compounds, electromagnetic stimulus of living cells and the validation of results will push the fundamental understanding in ELAINE far beyond the state of the art.

The third long-term objective is to analyse the basic mechanisms of electrical stimulation in bone, cartilage and brain, and to translate this knowledge into clinical practice. The technical vision focuses on an energy-minimised electrical stimulator that is 12-weeks autonomous, fully programmable and implantable with continuous and intermittent modes for application both in humans and in animals.

For this purpose, scientists from the fields of electrical engineering, computer science, mechanical engineering, material science, physics, biology, and medicine work together in an interdisciplinary manner.

Mission, project groups and projects

In order to achieve the main research objective to conceptualise energy autonomous, electrically active implants that are able to stimulate in a feedback-controlled manner, we divided the overall project into a project structure with three project areas. The three project areas A, B and C comprise an overall number of 16 research projects pursuing the following mission and goals.

A Modelling and characterisation - in silico and in vitro
This project area aims at enhancing multi-scale modelling approaches and experimental characterisation of therapeutic electrical stimulation in tissue regeneration and neurology. For these purposes, we will pursue a more profound theoretical description of passive, dielectric tissue properties. We will also research on an adequate designing of electrical stimulation and its effects regarding cells, tissue and implant-tissue interactions.

B Functional materials, energy supply and reliability
Closely interrelated with in silico, in vitro and in vivo experiments, a conception of functional materials and energy supply is the main focus of project area B. To this end, research of bio-active, mechanically reliable materials and implant structures, miniaturised, energy-efficient electronics and energy harvesting systems for the independent energy supply of the electrically active implants is carried out.

C Regeneration of tissue structures and function - in vitro and in vivo
Project area C comprises clinically-translational-oriented research on innovative therapeutic approaches and principles for structural or functional tissue generation. In that, it aims at improving and extending the usage of electric stimulation or electrically active implants for the introduction of new therapy areas.

Furthermore the Collaborative Reserach Centre includes four service projects to support the overall project: INF - Infrastructure Support Project, IRTG - Integrated Research Training Group, Z - Central Tasks of the Collaborative Research Centre, and S01 - Improving the metrology and instrumentation of electrical stimulation experiments.

Collaboration of the main research areas in the SFB 1270 ELAINE

Participating Institutions

Logo Friedrich-Alexander-Universität Erlangen-Nürnberg
Logo Ernst August Arndt Universität
[Translate to English:] Logo INP