Culturing particular types of cells in isolation is a basic technique for measuring how they respond to various stimuli, testing new drugs, and similar cell biology tasks. Neuronal cells, which make up the central nervous system in mammals, are both particularly important and particularly hard to culture. They are highly specialized and choosy about their environment--normally they only survive and develop when cultured on a layer of non-neuronal "glial" cells that provide cellular support services. There are usually far more glial cells than neuronal cells, which makes it hard to image neuronal cells and measure their activity against the glial background.
In a paper in the American Chemical Society’s journal Langmuir*, NIST researchers detail a microfluidics technique to culture neuronal cells in relative isolation on a variety of cell-culture surfaces, and to pattern the cells on the surface to study the effects of geometry on cell development. The trick is to mask the substrate with multiple alternating layers of positively and negatively charged polymers, building up a so-called polyelectrolyte multilayer (PEM). Properly selected, the PEM coating convinces the neuronal cells that they’re in a good environment to attach, develop and produce the characteristic neuron projections and synapses, all without a glial layer.
Even better, according to the NIST team, microfluidic channels can be used to lay down the PEM coating in patterned lines just a few micrometers wide. Neuronal cells will largely confine themselves to the pattern, enabling a variety of cell-geometry experiments, such as measuring the maximum gap between lines that can be bridged by neural axons and dendrites.
The research is part of a multidisciplinary NIST program to develop biochemical measurement technologies based on microfluidics.
Michael Baum | EurekAlert!
Researchers develop eco-friendly, 4-in-1 catalyst
25.04.2017 | Brown University
Transfecting cells gently – the LZH presents a GNOME prototype at the Labvolution 2017
25.04.2017 | Laser Zentrum Hannover e.V.
More and more automobile companies are focusing on body parts made of carbon fiber reinforced plastics (CFRP). However, manufacturing and repair costs must be further reduced in order to make CFRP more economical in use. Together with the Volkswagen AG and five other partners in the project HolQueSt 3D, the Laser Zentrum Hannover e.V. (LZH) has developed laser processes for the automatic trimming, drilling and repair of three-dimensional components.
Automated manufacturing processes are the basis for ultimately establishing the series production of CFRP components. In the project HolQueSt 3D, the LZH has...
Reflecting the structure of composites found in nature and the ancient world, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have synthesized thin carbon nanotube (CNT) textiles that exhibit both high electrical conductivity and a level of toughness that is about fifty times higher than copper films, currently used in electronics.
"The structural robustness of thin metal films has significant importance for the reliable operation of smart skin and flexible electronics including...
The nearby, giant radio galaxy M87 hosts a supermassive black hole (BH) and is well-known for its bright jet dominating the spectrum over ten orders of magnitude in frequency. Due to its proximity, jet prominence, and the large black hole mass, M87 is the best laboratory for investigating the formation, acceleration, and collimation of relativistic jets. A research team led by Silke Britzen from the Max Planck Institute for Radio Astronomy in Bonn, Germany, has found strong indication for turbulent processes connecting the accretion disk and the jet of that galaxy providing insights into the longstanding problem of the origin of astrophysical jets.
Supermassive black holes form some of the most enigmatic phenomena in astrophysics. Their enormous energy output is supposed to be generated by the...
The probability to find a certain number of photons inside a laser pulse usually corresponds to a classical distribution of independent events, the so-called...
Microprocessors based on atomically thin materials hold the promise of the evolution of traditional processors as well as new applications in the field of flexible electronics. Now, a TU Wien research team led by Thomas Müller has made a breakthrough in this field as part of an ongoing research project.
Two-dimensional materials, or 2D materials for short, are extremely versatile, although – or often more precisely because – they are made up of just one or a...
20.04.2017 | Event News
18.04.2017 | Event News
03.04.2017 | Event News
25.04.2017 | Physics and Astronomy
25.04.2017 | Materials Sciences
25.04.2017 | Life Sciences