Engineers from the University of Tokyo, Tokyo Women’s Medical University and RIKEN in Japan developed a functional sample of heart cells with a soft nanomesh sensor in direct contact with the tissue. This device could help researchers study cells, organs and medicines and pave way for future embedded medical devices.
Sunghoon Lee, a researcher in Professor Takao Someya’s group at the University of Tokyo, was struck with the idea for an ultrasoft electronic sensor that could monitor functioning cells.
According to Sunghoon, researchers study cardiomyocytes by culturing them on hard petri dishes then attach rigid sensor probes to them. This impedes the cells’ natural tendency to move as the sample beats. Such observations do not reflect the reality. “Our nanomesh sensor frees researchers to study cardiomyocytes and other cell cultures in a way more faithful to how they are in nature. The key is to use the sensor in conjunction with a flexible substrate, or base, for the cells to grow on,” said Lee.