Investigators at the University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston (UTMB) and Rice University have deposited nerve cells and carbon nanotubes on transparent plastic, and sent electrical signals to the cells:
The group employed two different types of cells in their experiments, neuroblastoma cells commonly used in test-tube experiments and neurons cultured from experimental rats. Both cell types were placed on ten-layer-thick “mats” of single-walled carbon nanotubes (SWNTs) deposited on transparent plastic. This enabled the researchers to use a microscope to position a tiny electrode next to individual cells and record their responses to electrical pulses transmitted through the SWNTs.
In addition to their electrical stimulation experiments, the scientists also studied how different kinds of SWNTs affected the growth and development of neuroblastoma cells. They compared cells placed on mats made of “functionalized” SWNTs, carbon nanotubes with additional molecules attached to their surfaces that may be used to guide cell growth or customize nanotube electrical properties, to cells cultured on unmodified “native” carbon nanotubes and conventional tissue culture plastic.
“Native carbon nanotubes support neuron attachment and growth well – as we expected, better than the two types of functionalized nanotubes we tested,” Pappas said. [Todd Pappas, director of sensory and molecular neuroengineering at UTMB’s Center for Biomedical Engineering -ed.] “Next we want to find a way to functionalize the nanotubes to make neuron attachment and communication better and make these surfaces more biocompatible.”
The press release…