Professor Li Luming works in the School of Aerospace in Tsinghua University. As a Changjiang Scholar and a winner of National Science Fund for Outstanding Young Scholar, Professor Li Luming was awarded the “Leading Talent”of Beijing in 2014. And he is the leading person of one of the 7 university level teams in Tsinghua University and the laboratory chief of national project in Neural Control Technology.
In the past 10 years, professor Li Luming has led his team joined in the building of the safe and serviced medical monitor and medical security scientific system around “human beings” in the aerospace environment, according to the request of big national manned space flight project. He successfully developed many instruments, like neuromuscular stimulation instrument, and equipped “Shen Zhou” series of spaceship. In them; the astronaut quality measure instrument was used in 2013 “Shen Zhou 10” space teaching.
At the same time, professor Li Luming used the senior technology of manned space flight in medical apparatus and instruments area, and developed the neural control research project. Through more than 10 years of hard work, he successfully developed the brain stimulator for curing Parkinson’s disease, and chargeable brain stimulator. He got the registration certificate of products for them and they have been used in 50 hospitals nationwide. More than 700 patients were implanted the brain stimulator developed by Tsinghua University, As the second product worldwide, the clinical application of Tsinghua brain stimulator not only made the world’ only monopoly enterprise reduced its price, and also helped every patient save 120,000 to 150,000. Totally save more than 100 million medical fees.
Decade of hardworking, the Tsinghua brain stimulator comes into the world.
Ten years ago, in the seminar of discussing interdisciplinary held by Tsinghua University and Tiantan Hospital, Wang Zhongcheng, the winner of National Highest Scientific Prize of 2008 and the Academician of Tiantan Hospital, suggested Li Lumingshould do the research of brain stimulator. And he pointed out that the brain stimulator was very important for Chinese neurosurgery and Chinese patients.
After careful investigation and survey, Li Luming knew the deep brain stimulation method and knew the brain stimulator and its significant meaning of developing it. The deep brain stimulation is a new method that the stimulation instrument sends electric pulse to the electrode of specific target pot implanted into the brain so as to cure the brain disease. It is the first choice of surgical therapy for Parkinson’s disease, epilepsy, depression and so on. There is potential clinical value for those addicted to medicine. The implanted brain stimulator is the core instrument, and it is monopolized by an American Giant. There are more than 60 million patients in China. The clinical value of developing it is huge. Besides that, brain stimulator is so far the only artificial system that could “restore” the brain function, and it is the vital tool to study brain science.
There were no research and industrial basis, and no reference materials. Under this difficult circumstance, Li Luming led his team and used 10 years’ time to solve the following questions, namely, what is the input basis, what is the acceptable standard for reliability, how to let the brain stimulator work reliably more than 10 years inside the patients, and how to design animal experiment? There were many basic, technical and craft questions needing to be answered.
In order to know more about clinic, every member of the team went to the operation room several times for watching the operation, and understanding the requirement of patients and doctors. In this process, his team and the clinical team of Tiantan hospital built very close relationship, and became good partner in search.
During talking about the research process, Professor Li Luming said, every big project research would experience a difficult process. Both the research of manned spacecraft and the research of brain stimulator are the core competency of the competitors. It is impossible to get the entire technology documents; let alone get support through communication. I can only gather experience by myself step by step. Now looking back, through a period of research, we control and master the basis, technology and craft. These became our precious treasure and the basis for further innovation.
Worry about the patients. The research and development of the chargeable brain stimulator succeed.
From 2007, Li Luming has led his team to begin the research of wireless chargeable brain stimulator outside of the body. At that time, the price of the brain stimulator with primary cell is too expensive for patients. If we could use charging technique in the brain stimulator to solve the patients’ problem of changing battery, the price problem will be solved.
Use wireless method across the skin to charge brain stimulator, and it looks very miraculous. However, the research work was very boring, or even a little bit painful. The core issue that needs to be solved is the heating problem. The electromagnetic coupling causes eddy on the titanium shell of the brain stimulator, and this causes heating problem. Through lots of simulation, test, optimization, and separation experiment, we found the correlation value between the inside temperature that the brain stimulator is implanted and the surface temperature. This finding also got verification in the following clinical experiment. We set a very important basis for redundancy protection. When memorizing this, Li Luming was full of feeling and proud of his team member.
· The chargeable brain stimulator got the registration certificate in July 2014. Beijing ranked it as the No. 1 great scientific and technological achievements of the “Innovating Beijing”building project. So far, there have been more than 100 patients who implanted the Tsinghua chargeable brain stimulator.
From follow, then in parallel, to lead
From 2010, Professor Li Luming, thought deeply what he could get break through on the basis of realizing something in parallel development. At that time, he chose closed loop stimulation method, and got the support from natural science funds.
Realizing stimulation on the basis of patients’ needs, according to the patients’ condition, that is also the closed loop stimulation, the dream of nerve regulation. However, it became a bottleneck problem that the international peer could not pass because they cannot change the brain stimulator. Because Professor Li Luming mastered the platform technology of brain stimulator and built a very intimate cooperative relationship with the most authoritative domestic hospital; he and his team became the most possible team who make breakthrough in this area.
In the past few years, they already systematically collected a lot of clinical data, and study the relevance between stimulation parameter and clinical symptom. And from 2014, they built a system that it could collect brain electrical physiological signal when there is stimulation. On the basis of animal experiment, he collected a lot of data during operation by using that system. They already finished the engineering prototype of the first system that could record brain electrical information in real time during stimulation, and send that information out immediately. They would do the monkey experiment of implanting that into the monkey, and would soon begin the clinical use. That is a very powerful tool that could answer the disease mechanism from the perspective of electrophysiology. Humans can soon study the research of using this tool in drug treatment and senile dementia, and could also use is as platform of the wireless brain-computer interface so as to serve the disabled.
The research work Professor Li Luming led his team to do, making our country become the second country following America that could develop, produce brain stimulator, and apply it in clinic. This is beneficial to patients, and pushes the medical area to improve and develop. These achievements already settled down in Beijing, and in 2009, they were selected as the “The Six Big Scientific and Technological Achievements of Self-dependent Innovation in Zhongguancun”. In 2010, as the national Ten Big Scientific and Technological Achievements in social development area of “The 11th Five-Year Plan”supporting plan, these achievements participated in the exhibition of “The 11th Five-Year Plan”in Big Scientific and Technological Achievements. In 2012, the research of brain stimulator was selected as the “Chinese Universities Ten Big Scientific and Technological Achievements Exhibition”. In September of 2014, the “Lasker”Prize, which is known as the weather vane of the“Nobel”physiology or medical science, was given to a French doctor who was the first one used brain stimulator to cure Parkinson’s disease, and to an American scientist who found stimulation target spot. Firstly let the brain stimulator entered the public’s awareness.
In 2015, their team would start the research of drug treatment, senile dementia, epilepsy and so on with domestic experts. The vagus nerve stimulator that was developed by them already finished the clinical experiment, and entered the stage of follow-up visit. The new goal of Li Luming is to build the second global nerve regulation industry which is technically supported by and in Beijing.
Resource: The Labor Union of Tsinghua University