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Brain probe that softens after insertion causes less scarring
Date:11/3/2011

A hard probe inserted in the cerebral cortex of a rat model turns nearly as pliable as the surrounding gray matter in minutes, and induces less of the tough scarring that walls off hard probes that do not change, researchers at Case Western Reserve University have found.

In the first test of the nanocomposite probe inspired by the dynamic skin of the sea cucumber, the immune response differed compared to that of a metal probe, and appeared to enable the brain to heal faster.

The findings, which provide insights to the brain's responses to the mechanical mismatch between tissue and probe, are described in the online edition of the Journal of Neural Engineering, at http://stacks.iop.org/1741-2552/8/066011.

Brain probes are used to study and treat neurological disorders. But, wires or silicon materials being used damage surrounding tissue over time and accumulate scarring, because they are far harder than brain matter.

In this test, "The scar wall is more diffuse; the nanocomposite probe is not completely isolated in the same way a traditional stiff probe is," said Dustin Tyler, a professor of biomedical engineering and leader of the experiment.

The result may prove beneficial. Studies by others in the field indicate the greater the isolation, the less effective the probe is at recording and relaying brain signals.

Tyler worked with James P. Harris, a graduate student in biomedical engineering and the lead author on the paper; Biomedical Engineering Professor Jeffery Capadona; Stuart J. Rowan, professor of macromolecular science and engineering, and former graduate student Kadhiravan Shanmuganathan; Robert H. Miller, professor of neurosciences at Case Western Reserve School of Medicine; Christoph Weder, formerly a professor of macromolecular science and engineering at Case Western Reserve and now at the University of Fribourg; and Harvard Neurology
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Contact: Kevin Mayhood
kevin.mayhood@case.edu
216-368-4442
Case Western Reserve University
Source:Eurekalert

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