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Z1.03/AA1.03 - Engineering Synaptic Electrodes to Drive Self-Assembly of Neural Interfaces 
April 22, 2014   9:30am - 9:45am

Bioelectronic medicine has numerous promising applications for the treatment of diseases and disorders of the nervous system, but also many challenges. Two of the key limiting factors to the development of next-generation neural interfaces are the low charge transfer area and poor neural tissue integration of conventional metallic electrodes [1, 2]. The “synaptic electrode" concept draws upon knowledge from both implantable neurostimulator and bioelectrode research, and combines it with the principles of tissue engineering. The basis of this technology is a conductive hydrogel (CH) which provides a new approach to tailoring the neural interface by decreasing the strain mismatch while providing a conductive path within a soft, deformable hydrogel matrix [3]. A typical CH consists of a biosynthetic hydrogel integrated with a CP, such as poly(ethylene dioxythiophene) (PEDOT). The hydrogel is a co-polymer of poly(vinyl alcohol) (PVA) and a modified biological molecule. Varying the type of biomolecule has allowed the properties of the CH to be tailored such that specific cells will interact with the electrode coating. CH efficacy and safety has been demonstrated in vivo, with reduced scar tissue compared to conventional platinum interfaces. The “synaptic electrode” construct is produced by the addition of a degradable PVA layer overlying the CH, in which cells can be encapsulated. This hydrogel layer provides both the ability to encapsulate cells within the electrode and simultaneously deliver therapeutic agents to promote regeneration or directed growth of neurons. Specifically, co-cultures of neurons and supporting glia have been embedded in the electrode coating, and found to survive and differentiate to produce active neural processes. The neural networks grown within the hydrogel matrix are excitable at lower thresholds than typical neural tissue at the implant interface. It is expected that integration of this bioelectrode into neural tissue will create a “synaptic electrode” to directly interact with excitable target tissue. These studies provide evidence that next-generation electrode arrays can be developed to safely deliver stimulus and accurately record from high density electrode arrays using natural synaptic processes. These bioactive neural interfaces create a technology platform which can be tailored for bioelectronic applications such as functional electrical stimulation (FES), nerve guides, bionic ear and eye devices and deep brain stimulators.References1. Ludwig, K.A., et al., Chronic neural recordings using silicon microelectrode arrays electrochemically deposited with poly(3,4-ethylenedioxythiophene) (PEDOT) film. J Neural Eng, 2006. 3: p. 59-70.2. Green, R.A., et al., Conducting polymers for neural interfaces: Challenges in developing an effective long-term implant. Biomaterials, 2008. 29: p. 3393-9.3. Green, R.A., et al., Conductive hydrogels: Mechanically robust hybrids for use as biomaterials. Macromol Biosci, 2012. 12.

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Keynote Address
Panel Discussion - Different Approaches to Commercializing Materials Research
Business Challenges to Starting a Materials-Based Company
Fred Kavli Distinguished Lectureship in Nanoscience
Application of In-situ X-ray Absorption, Emission and Powder Diffraction Studies in Nanomaterials Research - From the Design of an In-situ Experiment to Data Analysis