Daniel Yoshor, MD, the new Chair of Neurosurgery and Vice President of Clinical Integration and Innovation at Penn Medicine, discusses his research in methods to restore sight to the blind and his thoughts for the future of Penn Neurosurgery.
Dr. Yoshor's profile Welcome to the podcast, Siri's from the Specialists at Penn Medicine. I'm Melanie Coal, and today we're meeting pen medicines, new chair of neurosurgery and vice president of clinical integration and innovation Dr Daniel Yosh er. He's here to discuss his research. Dr. Yosh er. It's such a pleasure to have you join us today. You've recently taken part in the development of a neuro technology that's being called the bionic Eye. Explain a little bit about what this technology is, where we are in its development, and you've said you hope to see the restoration. Ah, functional eyesight to the blind in your lifetime. Yes, this has been a tantalizing prospect to neuroscientists and engineers for quite a long time, and the idea is very simple. Think of a roadblock going around a roadblock in patients with acquired blindness. Almost always, it's the eyes theon, tick nerves, the early part of the visual processing system that's irreversibly damaged so visual information can't get from the eyes to the brain because usually the eyes themselves are damaged or broken. What a visual cortical prosthetic aims to do is take visual information from the outside world and bypass the irreversibly damaged eyes or optic nerves and put that information directly into the visual part of the brain. So the idea is that technology will take images from the outside world, digitize them with a camera and convert that image captured from the outside world into a Siris of electrical pulses that are used to turn on the brain precisely and activate the circuits in the brain that normally allow us to see by getting information directly from the retina and the optic nerve. Instead, we bypass the broken retina and optic nerve and deliver the information directly to the brain. That is the concept that is amazing. Now is there any reason these implants can't be used in Children with inherited blindness? Or is there something to prevent this? Where do you see it going? That's an excellent question. The way we envision the technology right now, In order for it to work, the visual part of the brain has to be developed and that development of the visual part of the brain known as the visual cortex, which is mostly located in the back part of the head. Those circuits are not developed without the experience, a visual inputs that occur during infancy and childhood. So if someone is born with congenital blindness, that part of the brain is not developed and there's no target for us. Toe. Deliver the visual information. So the technology we're working on will only help patients with acquired lightness. They have to have had some visual function during their lives. It could be early in their lives. They can be blind for many, many years, but they have to have the latent ability in their visual brain to process visual information. So that would apply to patients who are blind as a result of trauma, for example, or retinal disorders like retinitis pigmentosa. Anything that damages the eyes permanently in patients who at one point in their life, were able to see relatively normally, those conditions would be appropriate for visual restoration with a visual cortical prosthetic doctor. Where did the concept for this technology come from? Working in this area and for over a decade? What we have largely done in the past is work with patients who are undergoing monitoring for medically intractable epilepsy. These air patients who have epilepsy that can't be controlled with drugs. It's an opportunity for us to study the brain, and patients who volunteer while they're waiting to have seizures toe have other testing. And these monitoring procedures and surgeries contribute to a better understanding of the visual cortex. We've been working on that, as I said for over a decade and what we found and we recently published on this in the journal Cell just a couple of months ago in May, you just try to use a pointillism technique like a Surat painting in your right. I'm very interested in the merger of technology and neurosurgery to improve patient outcomes. And in my practice over the past 20 years, the way I do pituitary surgery has changed enormously. And now we do all those surgeries entirely through the nose, using endoscopic cameras and special instruments designed for endoscopy. So we do what we call minimally invasive approaches to all these tumors, including some very large and challenging tumors. And the great thing about this technology is how much it helps patients. And as you know, a lot of my research in visual prosthetic technology and visual neuroscience aims to restore vision to patients who are blind, giving the gift of vision back to patients who are in danger of losing it forever. Really? One of the most gratifying things you could do as a doctor, Doctor. Yo, sure, as we wrap up as the new chair of neurosurgery and vice president of clinical integration and innovation, what's your vision for the department? What would you like other providers to take away from this episode and what you're planning to do there at Penn Medicine, My vision is tohave our department be highly sub specialized with a Siris of doctors in neurosurgery that are experts in very specific areas in neurosurgery and focused on those very specific areas. And that those doctors air not only superb experts in technical neurosurgery within their subspecialty, but they're also harnessing the great science and engineering that we have in pen to advance the field. So we don't want to just practice medicine at the highest level. We want to innovate and improve medicine and specifically neurosurgery at the very highest level. And that's what's gonna make The difference here is we're gonna be highly focus. Thank you so much, Dr Yoshida. Absolutely a fascinating segment and thank you so much for joining us today. And that concludes this episode from the specialist set Penn Medicine. To refer your patient to Penn Medicine, please visit our website at Penn Medicine. Org's slash Refer or you can call 877937 pen for more information, please remember to subscribe rate and review This podcast and all the other pen medicine podcasts. I'm Melanie Coal.