Neuroprosthetics are implants containing multi-contact electrodes that can substitute certain nerve functionalities. They may be able to restore amputees’ sense of touch, help the paralyzed walk again by stimulating their spinal cords and silence the nerve activity of people suffering from chronic pain. Stimulating nerves at the right place and the right time is essential for implementing effective treatments.
However this is still a challenge due to implants’ inability to record neural activity precisely.
Scientists led by Dr. Stéphanie Lacour, a professor at EPFL’s School of Engineering, developed a nerve-on-a-chip platform that can stimulate and record from explanted nerve fibers. The chip contains microchannels embedded with electrodes. The chip with the explanted nerve fibres can replicate the architecture, maturity and functioning of in vivo tissue.
This nerve-on-a-chip platform developed at EPFL can be manufactured in a clean room in a day or two and is able to rapidly record hundreds of nerve responses with a high signal-to-noise ratio. However, what really sets it apart is that it can record the activity of individual nerve cells. The research has just been published in Nature Communications.