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
Researchers invent tiny, light-powered wires to modulate brain's electrical signals
21.02.2018 | University of Chicago
The “Holy Grail” of peptide chemistry: Making peptide active agents available orally
21.02.2018 | Technische Universität München
For the first time, a team of researchers at the Max-Planck Institute (MPI) for Polymer Research in Mainz, Germany, has succeeded in making an integrated circuit (IC) from just a monolayer of a semiconducting polymer via a bottom-up, self-assembly approach.
In the self-assembly process, the semiconducting polymer arranges itself into an ordered monolayer in a transistor. The transistors are binary switches used...
Breakthrough provides a new concept of the design of molecular motors, sensors and electricity generators at nanoscale
Researchers from the Institute of Organic Chemistry and Biochemistry of the CAS (IOCB Prague), Institute of Physics of the CAS (IP CAS) and Palacký University...
For photographers and scientists, lenses are lifesavers. They reflect and refract light, making possible the imaging systems that drive discovery through the microscope and preserve history through cameras.
But today's glass-based lenses are bulky and resist miniaturization. Next-generation technologies, such as ultrathin cameras or tiny microscopes, require...
Scientists from the University of Zurich have succeeded for the first time in tracking individual stem cells and their neuronal progeny over months within the intact adult brain. This study sheds light on how new neurons are produced throughout life.
The generation of new nerve cells was once thought to taper off at the end of embryonic development. However, recent research has shown that the adult brain...
Theoretical physicists propose to use negative interference to control heat flow in quantum devices. Study published in Physical Review Letters
Quantum computer parts are sensitive and need to be cooled to very low temperatures. Their tiny size makes them particularly susceptible to a temperature...
15.02.2018 | Event News
13.02.2018 | Event News
12.02.2018 | Event News
21.02.2018 | Life Sciences
21.02.2018 | Life Sciences
21.02.2018 | Materials Sciences