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Analytical Chemistry

Probe Delivers Fluids, Light To Brain

Neuroscience: Thin, flexible optofluidic device causes minimal tissue inflammation

by Judith Lavelle
July 27, 2015 | APPEARED IN VOLUME 93, ISSUE 30

ILLUMINATING
Credit: Jeong Lab/CU Boulder
A wireless optofluidic system delivers fluid, then photostimulation, to an area deep inside a transparent model of a rodent brain.
[+]Enlarge
Credit: Jeong Lab, University of Colorado Boulder
This flexible, wirelessly controlled probe is orders of magnitude smaller than metal cannulas conventionally used for delivering fluids to brain tissue.
09330-scicon-probe.jpg
Credit: Jeong Lab, University of Colorado Boulder
This flexible, wirelessly controlled probe is orders of magnitude smaller than metal cannulas conventionally used for delivering fluids to brain tissue.

Collaboration between neuroscientists and materials scientists has yielded a new minimally invasive neural probe and wireless device that delivers liquid pharmaceuticals and light stimulation to brain tissue in mice and rats (Cell 2015, DOI: 10.1016/j.cell.2015.06.058). At about 80 µm thick and 500 µm wide, the soft, flexible polydimethylsiloxane (PDMS) probe caused a less severe inflammatory response than did conventional metal cannulas and optic fibers. The system, mounted on a rodent’s head, pumps fluids from four reservoirs through four 10-µm-wide channels deep into brain tissue. A cellular-scale LED array on the transparent probe allows for photostimulation. In one experiment, rodents received an opioid agonist through the device that caused them to spin in circles—a behavior that stopped when the device switched to delivering a control substance. The researchers, led by electrical engineer Jae-Woong Jeong of the University of Colorado, Boulder; Washington University in St. Louis neuroscience graduate student Jordan G. McCall; and John A. Rogers of the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, say the wireless optofluidic system may help neuroscientists study the brains of freely moving animals with less animal-researcher interaction, which can skew results.

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