In the future it is expected that it will be possible to insert nanoscale electrodes to study learning and memory functions and to treat patients suffering from chronic pain, depression, and diseases such as Parkinson's. But it is not known what would happen if the nanoelectrodes would break away from their contact points.
Scientists at Lund University have investigated this 'worst case by injecting nanowires in rat brains. The nanowires resemble in size and shape the registration nodes of electrodes of the future. The results show that the brain 'clean-up cells' (microglia), take care of the wires. After twelve weeks only minor differences were observed between the brains of the test group and the control group. The findings are published in Nano Letters.
"The results indicate that this is a feasible avenue to pursue in the future. Now we have a better base on which to develop more advanced and more useful electrodes than those we have today," explains Christelle Prinz, a scientist in Solid State Physics at the Faculty of Engineering (LTH), who, together with Cecilia Eriksson Linsmeier at the Faculty of Medicine, is the lead author of the article 'Nanowire biocompatibility in the brain - Looking for a needle in a 3D stack.'
Electrodes are already used today to counteract symptoms of Parkinson's disease, for instance. Future nanotechnology may enable refined and enhanced treatment and pave the way for entirely new applications.
One advantage of nanoscale electrodes is that they can register and stimulate the tiniest components of the brain. To study the biological safety - the biocompatibility - of these electrodes, the scientists first produced nanowires that were then mixed into a fluid that was injected into the rat brains. An equal number of rats were given the solution without the nanowires. After 1, 6, and 12 weeks, respectively, the researchers looked at how the rat brains were reacting to the nanowires.
The research project is run by the university's interdisciplinary Neuronano Research Center (NRC), coordinated by Jens Schouenborg at the Faculty of Medicine and funded by a Linnaeus grant and the Wallenberg Foundation, among others. The work has involved scientists from the Faculty of Medicine and from the Nanometer Consortium, directed by Lars Samuelson, LTH.
"We studied two of the brain tissue's support cells: on the one hand, microglia cells, whose job is to 'tidy up' junk and infectious compounds in the brain and, on the other hand, astrocytes, who contribute to the brain's healing process. The microglia 'ate' most of the nanowires. In weeks 6 and 12 we could see remains of them in the microglia cells," says Nils Danielsen, a researcher with the NRC.
The number of nerve cells remained constant for test and control groups, which is a positive sign. The greatest difference between the test and control groups was that the former had a greater astrocyte reaction at one week, but this level eventually declined. At weeks 6 and 12 the scientists were not able to detect any difference at all.
"Together with other findings and given that the number of microglial cells decreased over time, the results indicate that the brain was not damaged or chronically injured by the nanowires," Christelle Prinz concludes.
Authors: Cecilia Linsmeier Eriksson, Christelle N. Prinz, Lina ME Pettersson, Philippe Caroff, Lars Samuelson, Jens Schouenborg, Lars Montelius, Nils Danielsen.For more information, please contact:
Pressofficer Kristina Lindgärde; +46-709753 500; firstname.lastname@example.org
Ion treatments for cardiac arrhythmia — Non-invasive alternative to catheter-based surgery
20.01.2017 | GSI Helmholtzzentrum für Schwerionenforschung GmbH
Seeking structure with metagenome sequences
20.01.2017 | DOE/Joint Genome Institute
An important step towards a completely new experimental access to quantum physics has been made at University of Konstanz. The team of scientists headed by...
Yersiniae cause severe intestinal infections. Studies using Yersinia pseudotuberculosis as a model organism aim to elucidate the infection mechanisms of these...
Researchers from the University of Hamburg in Germany, in collaboration with colleagues from the University of Aarhus in Denmark, have synthesized a new superconducting material by growing a few layers of an antiferromagnetic transition-metal chalcogenide on a bismuth-based topological insulator, both being non-superconducting materials.
While superconductivity and magnetism are generally believed to be mutually exclusive, surprisingly, in this new material, superconducting correlations...
Laser-driving of semimetals allows creating novel quasiparticle states within condensed matter systems and switching between different states on ultrafast time scales
Studying properties of fundamental particles in condensed matter systems is a promising approach to quantum field theory. Quasiparticles offer the opportunity...
Among the general public, solar thermal energy is currently associated with dark blue, rectangular collectors on building roofs. Technologies are needed for aesthetically high quality architecture which offer the architect more room for manoeuvre when it comes to low- and plus-energy buildings. With the “ArKol” project, researchers at Fraunhofer ISE together with partners are currently developing two façade collectors for solar thermal energy generation, which permit a high degree of design flexibility: a strip collector for opaque façade sections and a solar thermal blind for transparent sections. The current state of the two developments will be presented at the BAU 2017 trade fair.
As part of the “ArKol – development of architecturally highly integrated façade collectors with heat pipes” project, Fraunhofer ISE together with its partners...
19.01.2017 | Event News
10.01.2017 | Event News
09.01.2017 | Event News
20.01.2017 | Awards Funding
20.01.2017 | Materials Sciences
20.01.2017 | Life Sciences