Implantable neural interface technology company Synchron has unveiled positive results for its brain computer interface (BCI) implant Stentrode from a study in patients with Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS).

Stentrode is a small mesh-like, stent-mounted electrode array, permanently implanted into a blood vessel in the brain, without needing an invasive open-brain surgery.

The endovascular brain implant is designed to allow patients to wirelessly control digital devices through thought and improve functional independence, said the company.

In the study, four participants who received Stentrode were monitored for one year, and the device was found to be safe, with no serious adverse events leading to disability or death.

Also, the implant remained in place and the blood vessel in which the device was implanted remained open for all four patients.

The participants implanted with Stentrode were able to use a computer to communicate and perform daily tasks such as online shopping and banking.

Study author Bruce Campbell said: “People with ALS eventually lose their ability to move their limbs, making them unable to operate devices like a phone or computer.

“Our research is exciting because while other devices require surgery that involves opening the skull, this brain-computer interface device is much less invasive. It receives electrical signals from the brain, allowing people to control a computer by thought.”

Stentrode is designed to be implanted through the patient’s vein until it reaches the brain, instead of drilling through the skull.

It comprises a net-like material attached with 16 sensors, and conforms with the vessel wall.

The device connects with an electronic device in the chest that relays signals from the brain’s motor cortex, which generates signals for movement, into commands for a computer.

The study was supported by the US Defence Advanced Research Projects Agency, the National Health and Medical Research Council of Australia, the Australian Federal Government Foundation and the Motor Neurone Disease Research Institute of Australia.

Synchron is continuing clinical trial in both the US and Australia, and is seeking large groups of patients to participate in the study.

Synchron CEO and co-founder Thomas Oxley said: “These results are a huge advancement for the field of BCI. We’ve shown that our endovascular BCI approach is safe, and allows patients to accomplish daily online tasks without invasive brain surgery.

“Years of research and technological development culminated in this moment, and as we continue to develop our technology, it has the potential to change the lives of millions of patients globally who suffer from paralysis and other debilitating neurological and brain-related diseases.”