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Home Projects 2nd call (2009) 2. Functional neuronal networks on self assembled artificial neuronal membranes

2. Functional neuronal networks on self assembled artificial neuronal membranes

Dr. H. Hall (ETHZ), Dr. H-A. Klok (EPFL), Dr. E. Reimhult (ETHZ) - PhD student: Philipp Spycher

Nerve regeneration and understanding of neuronal function is increasingly important as five percent of open wounds in the extremities due to road and sports accidents are complicated by peripheral nerve trauma. Unfortunately, all current therapies are unsatisfactory. Many in vitro and in vivo approaches have been undertaken to understand and design structures that can be used to specifically guide neuronal regeneration, however success has been scant as neuronal communication is not well understood. One of the reasons is that in vitro neuronal networks are difficult to establish and detection of neuronal activity in such networks needs to be noninvasive as the detection system should not damage the functionality. Therefore in this project we will create such well-defined neuronal networks on chemically patterned and passivated surfaces. This allows manipulation and functional characterization using direct imaging of cell-substrate interactions and visualizing spreading of action potentials as an indication for neuronal communication.

The project has accomplished the first phase in that neuronal networks of two different cell lines were established and characterized by immunofluorescence staining for synaptic vesicles. Functionality of these neuronal networks on homogeneous surfaces was demonstrated by visualizing spreading of Ca2+-sensitive dyes.

In a second phase, microscale patterns with SiO2-to-TiO2 materials contrast have been designed where the TiO2 surface was passivated with a non-fouling poly(ethylene glycol) (PEG) brush through molecular self-assembly. On the resulting non-passivated SiO2 pattern supported lipid bilayers (SLBs) were formed by liposome fusion down to feature sizes as small as 1 µm. The functionalization of the SLB with specific neural guidance cues for outgrowing neurites, which aim to mimic a native neuronal cell membrane of an adjacent neuron, is currently under under development. Moreover, the generality of this approach to also pattern proteins is currently being investigated, as well as the functionalization of the SLB with specific neural guidance cues for outgrowing neurites.

Contact: Philipp Spycher

ABSTRACT NCCBI MEETING 2010

ABSTRACT NCCBI MEETING 2011