Thu, Jul 04, 2019 - Page 2 News List

Chip system could help neurological disorders

GOVERNMENT FUNDING:Part of the money for the NTHU project came from the Academia-Industry Research Alliance project, which was launched in 2017

By Lin Chia-nan  /  Staff reporter

Minister of Science and Technology Chen Liang-gee, left, and Chen Hsin, a professor at National Tsing Hua University electrical engineering department, pose for photographers at a ministry news conference in Taipei yesterday.

Photo: Chien Hui-ju, Taipei Times

A team of National Tsing Hua University (NTHU) researchers yesterday shared their findings on a microchip system for neurological disorders, saying it might help people with Parkinson’s disease.

The system is one of the projects funded by the Ministry of Science and Technology under its Academia-Industry Research Alliance project launched in 2017.

Deep brain stimulators are one of the options for treating Parkinson’s disease with electrical stimuli, but the surgery to place a stimulator in a patient’s brain can be difficult and dangerous, Chen Hsin (陳新), a professor in the university’s department of electrical engineering, told a news conference at the ministry in Taipei.

Chen said he became interested in seeking solutions for Parkinson’s treatment after seeing what a family member who has the disease has gone through.

Current stimulators cannot be adjusted to release proper amount of stimuli according to individual needs, either, he said.

When he started to explore possible connection between engineering and biomedicine about 15 years ago, there was almost no crossover between the two disciplines, he said.

However, by working with chipmaker United Microelectronics Corp, NTHU and National Chiao Tung University electrical engineers and life science researchers as well as doctors from Chang Gung Memorial Hospital, his team developed a theranostic microchip that integrates neurological stimuli and recording, wireless electricity connection and data transmission functions, Chen said.

Measuring 5mm2, it is likely the world’s smallest biochip among those used in clinical practices, he said, adding that biochips being developed are not likely to be smaller.

The team has also developed the chip’s wireless stimuli controller, which has proved effective on experiments with mice and won a special prize in this year’s Computex development and innovation awards, he said.

The system is expected to enter clinical testing by 2022, he added.

Since 2017, the ministry has provided more than NT$116 million (US$3.73 million at the current exchange rate) to fund 56 projects related to integrated circuit design, manufacturing and packaging tests undertaken by eight universities, Deputy Minister of Science and Technology Hsu Yu-chin (許有進) said.

More than 30 private companies have provided more than NT$230 million to support development efforts, Hsu said.

Taiwan’s semiconductor industry is third in the world after the US and South Korea, but there is no knowing whether it might be outperformed by more nations, Etron Technology founder and chairman Nicky Lu (盧超群) said.

The industry needs more innovations and talent cultivation, he said.

This story has been viewed 2154 times.

Comments will be moderated. Keep comments relevant to the article. Remarks containing abusive and obscene language, personal attacks of any kind or promotion will be removed and the user banned. Final decision will be at the discretion of the Taipei Times.

TOP top