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
Turning carbon dioxide into liquid fuel
06.08.2020 | DOE/Argonne National Laboratory
Tellurium makes the difference
06.08.2020 | Friedrich-Schiller-Universität Jena
Scientists at the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT have come up with a striking new addition to contact stamping technologies in the ERDF research project ScanCut. In collaboration with industry partners from North Rhine-Westphalia, the Aachen-based team of researchers developed a hybrid manufacturing process for the laser cutting of thin-walled metal strips. This new process makes it possible to fabricate even the tiniest details of contact parts in an eco-friendly, high-precision and efficient manner.
Plug connectors are tiny and, at first glance, unremarkable – yet modern vehicles would be unable to function without them. Several thousand plug connectors...
An international research team has found a new approach that may be able to reduce bone loss in osteoporosis and maintain bone health.
Osteoporosis is the most common age-related bone disease which affects hundreds of millions of individuals worldwide. It is estimated that one in three women...
Traditional single-cell sequencing methods help to reveal insights about cellular differences and functions - but they do this with static snapshots only...
“Core-shell” clusters pave the way for new efficient nanomaterials that make catalysts, magnetic and laser sensors or measuring devices for detecting electromagnetic radiation more efficient.
Whether in innovative high-tech materials, more powerful computer chips, pharmaceuticals or in the field of renewable energies, nanoparticles – smallest...
An international research team with Prof. Cornelia Denz from the Institute of Applied Physics at the University of Münster develop for the first time light fields using caustics that do not change during propagation. With the new method, the physicists cleverly exploit light structures that can be seen in rainbows or when light is transmitted through drinking glasses.
Modern applications as high resolution microsopy or micro- or nanoscale material processing require customized laser beams that do not change during...
23.07.2020 | Event News
21.07.2020 | Event News
07.07.2020 | Event News
06.08.2020 | Earth Sciences
06.08.2020 | Power and Electrical Engineering
06.08.2020 | Life Sciences