Nanowires measure neuron activity

Editorial

Rebecca Pool

Thursday, February 22, 2018 - 21:30
Image: A human-induced pluripotent stem cell neuron on a nanowire array. [Nano Letters, American Chemical Society]
 
A team of US- and Singapore-based researchers has unveiled a stunning SEM image of a neuron, attached to nanowires that record the electrical activity of the cell in fine detail.
 
The small-diameter wires penetrate the neuron cells, so researchers can measure minute changes in the cells during normal and drug-modified activity.
 
The new hybrid integration scheme-up, pioneered by Professor Shadi Dayeh from Electrical and Computer Engineering at the University of California, San Diego, and colleagues could one day serve as a platform to screen drugs for Alzheimer’s and other neurological diseases.
 
The set-up will also help researchers to study how single cells communicate in large, brain-type networks.
 
"[The] new hybrid integration scheme offers for the first time a nanowire-on-lead approach, which enables independent electrical addressability, is scalable, and has superior spatial resolution in vertical nanowire arrays," says Dayeh.
 
According to the researcher, they can fabricate nanowire arrays down to submicron site-to-site spacing.
 
What's more, the arrays can be combined with standard integrated circuit fabrication technologies.
 
A human-induced pluripotent stem cell (hiPSC) neuron on a nanowire array. The measured potentials on the right with the small pre-spike oscillations demonstrate the sensitivity of the Nano Assay to minute potential changes in the hiPSC neuron. These small potential changes correlate with the health state of the neuron cell. [American Chemical Society, Nano Lett. 17, 5, 2757-2764]
 
Using the arrays for electrophysiological recordings from mouse and rat primary neurons and human-induced pluripotent stem cell derived neurons, gave high signal-to-noise ratios.
 
"This platform paves the way for longitudinal electrophysiological experiments on synaptic activity in hiPSC-based disease models of neuronal networks, critical for the development of drugs for neurological diseases," says Dayeh.
 
Research is published in Nano Letters.
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