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 New eDNA technology used to quickly assess coral reefs
18.04.2019 | University of Hawaii at Manoa

nachricht New automated biological-sample analysis systems to accelerate disease detection
18.04.2019 | Polytechnique Montréal

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Explosion on Jupiter-sized star 10 times more powerful than ever seen on our sun

A stellar flare 10 times more powerful than anything seen on our sun has burst from an ultracool star almost the same size as Jupiter

  • Coolest and smallest star to produce a superflare found
  • Star is a tenth of the radius of our Sun
  • Researchers led by University of Warwick could only see...

Im Focus: Quantum simulation more stable than expected

A localization phenomenon boosts the accuracy of solving quantum many-body problems with quantum computers which are otherwise challenging for conventional computers. This brings such digital quantum simulation within reach on quantum devices available today.

Quantum computers promise to solve certain computational problems exponentially faster than any classical machine. “A particularly promising application is the...

Im Focus: Largest, fastest array of microscopic 'traffic cops' for optical communications

The technology could revolutionize how information travels through data centers and artificial intelligence networks

Engineers at the University of California, Berkeley have built a new photonic switch that can control the direction of light passing through optical fibers...

Im Focus: A long-distance relationship in femtoseconds

Physicists observe how electron-hole pairs drift apart at ultrafast speed, but still remain strongly bound.

Modern electronics relies on ultrafast charge motion on ever shorter length scales. Physicists from Regensburg and Gothenburg have now succeeded in resolving a...

Im Focus: Researchers 3D print metamaterials with novel optical properties

Engineers create novel optical devices, including a moth eye-inspired omnidirectional microwave antenna

A team of engineers at Tufts University has developed a series of 3D printed metamaterials with unique microwave or optical properties that go beyond what is...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

Revered mathematicians and computer scientists converge with 200 young researchers in Heidelberg!

17.04.2019 | Event News

First dust conference in the Central Asian part of the earth’s dust belt

15.04.2019 | Event News

Fraunhofer FHR at the IEEE Radar Conference 2019 in Boston, USA

09.04.2019 | Event News

 
Latest News

New automated biological-sample analysis systems to accelerate disease detection

18.04.2019 | Life Sciences

Explosion on Jupiter-sized star 10 times more powerful than ever seen on our sun

18.04.2019 | Physics and Astronomy

New eDNA technology used to quickly assess coral reefs

18.04.2019 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>