Health and Healthcare Systems

Could implants treat people with brain disease? A young scientist explains

Nanostructured brain implants may be able to restore function for disabled people. Image: Jesse Orrico

Gaëlle Offranc Piret
Researcher, Inserm
Our Impact
What's the World Economic Forum doing to accelerate action on Health and Healthcare Systems?
The Big Picture
Explore and monitor how Global Health is affecting economies, industries and global issues
A hand holding a looking glass by a lake
Crowdsource Innovation
Get involved with our crowdsourced digital platform to deliver impact at scale
Stay up to date:

Global Health

This article is part of: Annual Meeting of the New Champions

As part of our series exploring the edges of scientific research, we caught up with Gaëlle Offranc Piret, a World Economic Forum Young Scientist at the French Institute of Health and Medical Research, to find out about her work developing flexible, thin and nanostructured brain implants for therapeutic applications such as restoring function for disabled people.

What is the big problem you're trying to solve?

How our brain works is still full of mystery and in the meantime it is very fragile and susceptible to diseases or accidents; treatments need to be developed while fundamental aspects have to be studied like the communication between different brain areas, the role of each neuron, how our neurons learn and use brain plasticity to complete new tasks.

What is the big idea you're trying to use to solve it?

The idea is that we have to record a great number of neurons simultaneously and associate their electrical signals to operations that we do, so I am working on the fabrication of a mimetic implant with very tiny electrodes that will be able to record these signals while not triggering too much immune reaction.

How would you explain that to a five-year-old?

I am fabricating a lot of tiny electrical wires that will allow us to measure the signals we have inside the brain. This will allow us to find treatments for people with brain diseases.

What has been the most challenging part of the journey?

To design an implant that is mimetic of the brain, but that answer to surgical and clinical requirements. This is still challenging, so this is a very long journey. Implants could allow our neurons to control different machines such as robots, but this has to remain under medical purposes only since an implant surgery always has risks. Controlling robots using non-invasive brain interface is also possible but is not yet very effective.

Don't miss any update on this topic

Create a free account and access your personalized content collection with our latest publications and analyses.

Sign up for free

License and Republishing

World Economic Forum articles may be republished in accordance with the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International Public License, and in accordance with our Terms of Use.

The views expressed in this article are those of the author alone and not the World Economic Forum.

World Economic Forum logo
Global Agenda

The Agenda Weekly

A weekly update of the most important issues driving the global agenda

Subscribe today

You can unsubscribe at any time using the link in our emails. For more details, review our privacy policy.

How clean energy solutions at home and in health facilities can greatly benefit child health

Kitty van der Heijden

June 21, 2024

About Us



Partners & Members

  • Join Us

Language Editions

Privacy Policy & Terms of Service

© 2024 World Economic Forum