It is easy to escape from confinement if you have a few brain cells. Pictured above are microscopic cages, based on the shape of “buckyball” carbon molecules, which are trapping neurons taken from the brains of mice.
The cells have grown long branch-like appendages through the bars of their cages, allowing them to make connections with each other.
Trapping brain cells and growing them in this way allows them to be manipulated more precisely, such as controlling the length of their connecting branches, says Aleksandr Ovsianikov at the Vienna University of Technology in Austria. “We can see what changes if we change their geometry.”
The immature brain cells, obtained from mouse embryos, are forced into their prisons by placing a suspension of the cells over a layer of cages. As the cells descended due to gravity, Ovsianikov and his colleagues bombarded the suspension with sound waves to jostle the cells about. The sound waves were designed to produce quiet spots above the cages, causing the cells to tumble in.
Over the next seven days the cells were nurtured in a dish to allow them to mature and grow out their branches. The team’s next step is to investigate if the cells can transmit electrical signals to each other.
Journal reference: Biofabrication, DOI: 10.1088/1758-5090/ab76d9
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