Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Brain Probe That Softens After Insertion Causes Less Scarring

07.11.2011
A hard probe inserted in the cerebral cortex of a rat model turns nearly as pliable as the surrounding gray matter in minutes, and induces less of the tough scarring that walls off hard probes that do not change, researchers at Case Western Reserve University have found.

In the first test of the nanocomposite probe inspired by the dynamic skin of the sea cucumber, the immune response differed compared to that of a metal probe, and appeared to enable the brain to heal faster.

The findings, which provide insights to the brain’s responses to the mechanical mismatch between tissue and probe, are described in the online edition of the Journal of Neural Engineering, at http://stacks.iop.org/1741-2552/8/066011.

Brain probes are used to study and treat neurological disorders. But, wires or silicon materials being used damage surrounding tissue over time and accumulate scarring, because they are far harder than brain matter.

In this test, “The scar wall is more diffuse; the nanocomposite probe is not completely isolated in the same way a traditional stiff probe is,” said Dustin Tyler, a professor of biomedical engineering and leader of the experiment.

The result may prove beneficial. Studies by others in the field indicate the greater the isolation, the less effective the probe is at recording and relaying brain signals.

Tyler worked with James P. Harris, a graduate student in biomedical engineering and the lead author on the paper; Biomedical Engineering Professor Jeffery Capadona; Stuart J. Rowan, professor of macromolecular science and engineering, and former graduate student Kadhiravan Shanmuganathan; Robert H. Miller, professor of neurosciences at Case Western Reserve School of Medicine; Christoph Weder, formerly a professor of macromolecular science and engineering at Case Western Reserve and now at the University of Fribourg; and Harvard Neurology Professor and Research Fellow Brian C. Healy.

The new probe material is inspired by the skin of the sea cucumber, which is normally soft and flexible, but becomes rigid for its own defense within seconds of being touched. These changing mechanical properties may improve our interaction with our brain, Tyler said.

In the nanocomposite, short polymer chains are linked together in a network mesh to make the material rigid, which is necessary for insertion into the cortex. In the presence of water, the mesh begin unlinking in seconds, changing to a soft, rubbery material designed to cause less damage to surrounding brain tissue over time.

To test the effects of the changing mechanical properties, metal probes were coated in a think layer of nanocomposite materal. When both were implanted into the brain, the chemical properties as seen by the brain were these same, but the mechanical properties were very different.

Four weeks after implantation, the density of neuronal nuclei adjacent to the new probe was significantly higher than surrounding the traditional probe.

At eight weeks, the density of nuclei had increased around the wire probe to equal the density around the flexible probe, which remained unchanged.

“One hypothesis is that the soft material allows the brain to recover more quickly,” Tyler said. “Both probes cause the same insult to the tissue when inserted.”

But, testing for scar components at 8 weeks showed that although the thickness of scar surrounding the metal probe had shrunk, the scar was denser and more complete than that around the nanocomposite probe. This dense scar separated the stiff probe from the brain more than the loose tissue around the more flexible probe.

The researchers are now comparing the impacts of the two probes at longer time intervals and testing for more indicators of the immune response, Harris said. “We’re trying to better understand the nuances regarding the response to the nanocomposite and how it would improve recordings.”

Kevin Mayhood | Newswise Science News
Further information:
http://www.case.edu

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht What the world's tiniest 'monster truck' reveals
23.08.2017 | American Chemical Society

nachricht Treating arthritis with algae
23.08.2017 | Empa - Eidgenössische Materialprüfungs- und Forschungsanstalt

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Fizzy soda water could be key to clean manufacture of flat wonder material: Graphene

Whether you call it effervescent, fizzy, or sparkling, carbonated water is making a comeback as a beverage. Aside from quenching thirst, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have discovered a new use for these "bubbly" concoctions that will have major impact on the manufacturer of the world's thinnest, flattest, and one most useful materials -- graphene.

As graphene's popularity grows as an advanced "wonder" material, the speed and quality at which it can be manufactured will be paramount. With that in mind,...

Im Focus: Exotic quantum states made from light: Physicists create optical “wells” for a super-photon

Physicists at the University of Bonn have managed to create optical hollows and more complex patterns into which the light of a Bose-Einstein condensate flows. The creation of such highly low-loss structures for light is a prerequisite for complex light circuits, such as for quantum information processing for a new generation of computers. The researchers are now presenting their results in the journal Nature Photonics.

Light particles (photons) occur as tiny, indivisible portions. Many thousands of these light portions can be merged to form a single super-photon if they are...

Im Focus: Circular RNA linked to brain function

For the first time, scientists have shown that circular RNA is linked to brain function. When a RNA molecule called Cdr1as was deleted from the genome of mice, the animals had problems filtering out unnecessary information – like patients suffering from neuropsychiatric disorders.

While hundreds of circular RNAs (circRNAs) are abundant in mammalian brains, one big question has remained unanswered: What are they actually good for? In the...

Im Focus: RAVAN CubeSat measures Earth's outgoing energy

An experimental small satellite has successfully collected and delivered data on a key measurement for predicting changes in Earth's climate.

The Radiometer Assessment using Vertically Aligned Nanotubes (RAVAN) CubeSat was launched into low-Earth orbit on Nov. 11, 2016, in order to test new...

Im Focus: Scientists shine new light on the “other high temperature superconductor”

A study led by scientists of the Max Planck Institute for the Structure and Dynamics of Matter (MPSD) at the Center for Free-Electron Laser Science in Hamburg presents evidence of the coexistence of superconductivity and “charge-density-waves” in compounds of the poorly-studied family of bismuthates. This observation opens up new perspectives for a deeper understanding of the phenomenon of high-temperature superconductivity, a topic which is at the core of condensed matter research since more than 30 years. The paper by Nicoletti et al has been published in the PNAS.

Since the beginning of the 20th century, superconductivity had been observed in some metals at temperatures only a few degrees above the absolute zero (minus...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Call for Papers – ICNFT 2018, 5th International Conference on New Forming Technology

16.08.2017 | Event News

Sustainability is the business model of tomorrow

04.08.2017 | Event News

Clash of Realities 2017: Registration now open. International Conference at TH Köln

26.07.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

What the world's tiniest 'monster truck' reveals

23.08.2017 | Life Sciences

Treating arthritis with algae

23.08.2017 | Life Sciences

Witnessing turbulent motion in the atmosphere of a distant star

23.08.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>