Colloidal Supports For Neuron Culture, Synthetic Networks And Transplantation

Scientists at the University of California, Berkeley have developed a method for manipulating highly differentiated neurons in vitro, using silica beads as substrates. The use of silica beads allows for facile assembly of three-dimensional neuronal networks. The method can be used as a powerful tool for gaining insights into neuronal circuit formation and dynamics, conducting neuron-based drug screens, and exploring therapeutic strategies. The method offers several attractive features, including: ? Silica beads support neuronal growth, maturation, transfection and manipulation. ? Silica beads act as moveable supports for highly differentiated neurons, permitting manipulation of neurons without damaging delicate processes. ? Silica beads spontaneously assemble into hexagonal arrays, facilitating in-vitro circuit construction. ? Silica beads are optically transparent, allowing for non-invasive neuronal stimulation and recording of neuronal activity. This method can be used for: 1). Studying neuronal circuit formation and dynamics: ? Neurons can be manipulated genetically and mechanically. ? Neurons can be assembled into ordered 2D layers and 3D networks. ? Beads coated with chemical guidance can cues direct neuronal growth and promote synapse formation. ? Network connectivity can be monitored remotely. 2). Conducting neuron-based drug screens: ? Individual beads or layered neural networks can be used as platforms for drug screens. 3). Exploring therapeutic strategies: ? Neurons grown on silica beads could be manipulated and used for cell replacement therapies: ideally, the intact nervous system. Javed Afzal 510-643-7201

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