Researchers from the University of Calgary have cultivated neurons on silicon microchips for the first time. They used neurons isolated from mollusc Lymnaea, also known as the great pond snail, and cultured them for 2 to 4 hours over apertures on the chips forming so-called gigaseals. The microchip allows for high quality signal recording of individual neurons cultured directly on the chip’s surface. So far they have used it to monitor individual neurons only, but the technique theoretically allows for simultaneous monitoring of multiple individual neurons engaged in synaptic connectivity. This will lead to a better understanding of neuronal communication and synaptic plasticity.
“This technical breakthrough means we can track subtle changes in brain activity at the level of ion channels and synaptic potentials, which are also the most suitable target sites for drug development in neurodegenerative diseases and neuropsychological disorders,” says Syed, professor and head of the Department of Cell Biology and Anatomy, member of the Hotchkiss Brain Institute and advisor to the Vice President Research on Biomedical Engineering Initiative of the U of C.
In addition, the chips are automated, making them much easier to use than the traditional patch-clamp techniques used for neuronal studies. The findings are published online in this month’s Biomedical Devices.
Press release: Neurochip technology developed by Canadian team
Article abstract: High-fidelity patch-clamp recordings from neurons cultured on a polymer microchip…