Promoting neuron growth
Researchers in London have found that nanometer size diamonds can be attached to a wide range of substrates and that they can promote the growth of neurons without the need for the complex layers of proteins normally required.
Neural material can be encouraged to attach itself to solid materials and grow into functioning living networks, but this normally requires the provision of synthetic proteins, which is not desirable for in-vivo applications. Diamond has long been considered to be a biocompatible material, but large area diamond surfaces are not attractive to neurons when it comes to cell attachment. However, the reactive nature and shape of nanodiamonds leads neurons to view them differently, and fully functioning neural networks have been grown without the need for protein coating, which offer great potential for chronic medical implants technologies.
The nanodiamonds, produced commercially using a detonation process, can be attached to 3D shapes using a sonication process, which is harmless to most materials. In this collaboration between the London Centre for Nanotechnology (LCN) and UCL’s Laboratory for Molecular Pharmacology (LMP), mouse hippocampal neurons were placed in cell culture solutions containing nanodiamond coated substrates for up to 12 days. Electrophysiological measurements showed that fully developed neural networks resulted, with clear evidence for synaptic connectivity. The LCN’s Professor Richard Jackman states ‘not only is this of great interest in terms of medical implant applications, but diamond can also act as a semiconductor, and we have begun to integrate the living neural networks with diamond transistors on the same chip. In this way we can both stimulate and record neural signals, opening up the prospect for bioelectronic devices’. Jackman, and Professor Ralph Schoepfer of the LMP are currently investigating size and surface chemical effects related to the nanodiamonds, which may control the cells propensity for attachment and growth, remaining firmly fixed to the substrate, as opposed to ingestion of the nanoparticles by the cells.
Citation: “The use of nanodiamond monolayer coatings to promote the formation of functional neuronal networks” by Agnes Thalhammer, Robert J. Edgington, Lorenzo A. Cingolani, Ralf Schoepfer and Richard B. Jackman, Biomaterials 31 (2010) 2097–2104.
Funding: UK Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council and EU Framework Six STREP programme (DREAMS)
Previous Story: UK Government Plans Great Opportunities for Small Technologies
Next Story: New laser shatters the boundaries of possibility
The Institute of Nanotechnology puts significant effort into ensuring that the information provided on its news pages is accurate and up-to-date. However, we cannot guarantee absolute accuracy. Consequently, the Institute of Nanotechnology disclaims any and all responsibility for inaccuracy, omission or any kind of deficiency in relation to the news items and articles hosted herein.
- 14 August 2014“Trojan horse” treatment could beat brain tumours
- 13 August 2014Copper foam turns CO2 into useful chemicals
- 29 July 2014Nanotechnology and tyres: Greening industry and transport
- 22 July 2014Supporting Recommendations for Future Topics in Horizon 2020
- 17 June 20142014 edition of European NanoSafety Cluster Compendium now online
- View All