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Project A4 - Monitoring neuronal activity with printed devices

Bernhard Wolfrum (TUM)

Today’s society faces a growing impact of age-related diseases caused by a steady increase in life expectancy. In particular, neurodegenerative diseases call for new model systems and technologies to understand their mechanisms and consequently develop potential intervention strategies.

In our group, we investigate bioelectronic hybrid systems that connect cellular networks with electronic devices1–3. In this context, we focus on array-based monitoring and stimulation of neuronal activity. Our interests focus on aspects of the cell-device interface itself and suitable sensing methods for cellular activity. We are aiming at the development of novel sensor concepts that allow the detection of neurophysiological and neurochemical cues within a network. In cooperation with other groups of the Bernstein center, our goal is to apply these techniques for in vivo studies on cellular communication in defined networks.

Objectives and description of the project

The objective of our project is the development and fabrication of a flexible implantable sensor array for the detection of various neurotransmitters. These sensor arrays will be able to record, for instance, the secretion of dopamine and acetylcholine with single-cell resolution at a network level. In particular, we are interested in changes of cellular response under the influence of various pharmacological or toxic stimulation factors. In this way, we hope to gain inside into the working mechanisms as well as the direct consequences of the cell-to-cell propagation of degenerative processes.

(1) Yakushenko, A.; Kätelhön, E.; Wolfrum, B. Parallel On-Chip Analysis of Single Vesicle Neurotransmitter Release. Anal. Chem. 2013, 85, 5483–5490.

(2) Czeschik, A.; Rinklin, P.; Derra, U.; Ullmann, S.; Holik, P.; Steltenkamp, S.; Offenhäusser, A.; Wolfrum, B. Nanostructured Cavity Devices for Extracellular Stimulation of HL-1 Cells. Nanoscale 2015, 7, 9275–9281.

(3) Rinklin, P.; Afanasenkau, D.; Wiegand, S.; Offenhäusser, A.; Wolfrum, B. Inducing Microscopic Thermal Lesions for the Dissection of Functional Cell Networks on a Chip. Lab. Chip 2015, 15, 237–243.