ANU researchers grow brain cells on a chip that can be used for neural implants

Researchers from the Australian National University have nanowires to guide the growth of brain cells on a semiconductor wafer. A newly developed material allows for predictable neuronal circuits to be formed on a chip. The platform could be used to study brain cells, how they interact with each other, and can potentially be used for neuro-prosthetics to help people with damaged brains undergoing medical treatment.

Image: Stuart Hay/ ANU

Dr Vini Gautam, the lead researcher from the Research School of Engineering . Image: Stuart Hay/ ANU

Dr Vini Gautam, the lead researcher from the Research School of Engineering has said, "The project will provide new insights into the development of neuro-prosthetics which can help the brain recover after damage due to an accident, stroke or degenerative neurological diseases." Dr Vincent Daria, the project group leader has said, "Unlike other prosthetics, like an artificial limb, neurons need to connect synaptically, which form the basis of information processing in the brain during sensory input, cognition, learning and memory."

The brain on a chip. Image: Stuart Hay/ ANU

The brain on a chip. Image: Stuart Hay/ ANU

The research was a collaboration between scientists in the fields of engineering, neuroscience and material technology. This is the first time that scientists have grown functional and highly connected neuronal circuits on nanowire scaffolds. The research could lead to advancements in connections between neuroscience and materials nanotechnology. The research has been published in the nanotechnology focused science journal, nano letters.


Published Date: May 15, 2017 03:05 pm | Updated Date: May 15, 2017 03:05 pm