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Sliced Neurons

Difficult-to-culture neurons grow well from precursor cells on spiky nanowire scaffolds

11 October 2021

Sliced Neurons

Walk the streets, stomp through mud or scale a mountain – the way your body exerts itself changes on each of these surfaces. It’s a similar story with cells, which is why researchers grow cells on special surfaces designed at the nanoscale level to investigate and manipulate their behaviours. However, cultivating human neurons on these surfaces is challenging, partly because they’re slow growers. Now, researchers reveal how substrates with densely packed nanowires can successfully yield neurons from human induced pluripotent stem cells (IPS) in just 20 days. The IPS-derived neurons took on the shape and electrical features of neurons. Scanning electron microscopy combined with cross-sectional imaging using focused ion beam milling (pictured) showed neurons sat on the tips of the nanowires. Moreover, more neurons developed on nanowires than on flat surfaces. This provides an effective system for growing human neurons to study neurological diseases.

Written by Lux Fatimathas

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BPoD stands for Biomedical Picture of the Day. Managed by the MRC Laboratory of Medical Sciences until Jul 2023, it is now run independently by a dedicated team of scientists and writers. The website aims to engage everyone, young and old, in the wonders of biology, and its influence on medicine. The ever-growing archive of more than 4000 research images documents over a decade of progress. Explore the collection and see what you discover. Images are kindly provided for inclusion on this website through the generosity of scientists across the globe.

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