Lund reports nanowire progress

1 min read

Researchers at Lund University in Sweden have for the first time successfully injected 'nanowires' into the brains of rats.

The breakthrough at Lund has significant implications for understanding how the body reacts to nanoparticles. Nanoscale electrodes are able to stimulate very small components of the brain, however, it is not known what would happen if the nano-electrodes break away from their contact points.

Researchers at Lund University set up the worst-case scenario during the investigations and found brain cells called 'microglia' were able to clean up the wires.

The study used nanowires that were mixed into a fluid and injected into the rat brains. An equal number of rats were given the solution without the nanowires. After one, six, and 12 weeks, the researchers looked at how the rat brains reacted to the nanowires. After 12 weeks, only minor differences were shown between the brains of the test group and the control group.

Nils Danielsen, a researcher at the university's interdisciplinary Neuronano Research Center (NRC), said: ‘We studied two of the brain tissue's support cells: on the one hand, microglia cells, whose job is to “tidy up” junk and infectious compounds in the brain and, on the other hand, astrocytes, which contribute to the brain's healing process. The microglia “ate” most of the nanowires. In weeks six and 12 we could see remains of them in the microglia cells.'

Christelle Prinz, a researcher in solid-state physics at the Faculty of Engineering, added: 'The results indicate that this is a feasible avenue to pursue in the future. Now we have a better base on which to develop more advanced and more useful electrodes than those we have today.

‘Together with other findings and given that the number of microglial cells decreased over time, the results indicate that the brain was not damaged or chronically injured by the nanowires.'

In the future, scientists expect to be able to insert nanoscale electrodes to study learning and memory functions for the treatment of patients suffering from chronic pain and depression.