Embedded nanoelectronics could advance fundamental neuroscience and enable patient-specific drug screening

Since their development more than a decade ago, brain organoids — brain-like structures grown in petri dishes from human stem cells — have helped scientists better understand a range of neurological disorders, including schizophrenia, epilepsy, and autism spectrum disorders.

These pea-size bundles of cells proliferate, differentiate, and self-assemble into 3D tissues that mimic the architecture, diversity, and electric signaling of the human brain at early stages.

These powerful models could offer even more insight into early brain development if researchers could record individual neurons as they grow and develop over time. However, developing a non-invasive recording system that can stretch and fold with growing brain tissue has been difficult as most probes are either too rigid to interact with tofu-soft brain tissue or are limited to surface recordings.

EpilepsyU Note: This can lead better diagnotics.

Now, researchers from the Harvard John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences(SEAS) have embedded stretchable nanoelectronics into brain organoids, creating a cyborg brain organoid platform that can be used to record and study brain development over months. These cyborg organoids could be used for fundamental neuroscience as well as patient-specific drug screening to test how electrical signals in the brain change or evolve based on different drugs.

“Our cyborg organoid platform provides a continuous, three-dimensional, single-cell level, electrical recording of human brain development,” said Jia Liu, Assistant Professor of Bioengineering at SEAS and senior author of the study. “It’s the first long-term stable 3D electrical map of human brain organoid development over the entire time course of brain development”

The research is published in Advanced Materials.


SOURCE: seas.harvard.edu By Leah Burrows