Our work focuses on developing new methods to direct neuronal growth within 3-dimensional scaffolds. To better mimic cells natural environmen we use a collagen based 3D hydrogel scaffold for neuronal growth and regeneration. We utilize tissue engineering methods to manipulate 3D gels such as mechanical and magnetic forces to enhance and direct neuronal regeneration.
We are studying the interactions of neurons with nano-scale physical elements to develop substrates that will promote and direct neuronal growth. In this study we use photolithography techniques to fabricate substrates on which leech neurons are plated and grown. The effect on the neuronal growth is quantitatively analyzed. This enables us to develop substrates with optimal parameters for regeneration. Our study highlights the sensitivity of regenerating neurons to nano-scale topographic substrates, setting the stage for the development of nano-based regenerative devices.
We develop tools based on neuron-nanoparticle interaction in order to promote neuronal growth. We grow neurons or neuron-like cells on substrates coated with nanoparticles of different materials and study the effect of the particles on neurites' development and morphology. We use High-resolution scanning electron microscopy to closely examine cell-particle interactions, and to quantify the effect on neurites' outgrowth with high sensitivity. Towards the design of therapeutic platforms for nerve regeneration we develop 2D and 3D nanoparticle-based platforms and examine their effect on neuronal growth. We grow neurons or neuron-like cells on substrates coated with nanoparticles of different materials, shapes and sizes, and study the effect on neurites' development and morphology. We also use High-resolution scanning electron microscopy to closely examine cell-particle interactions and to quantify the effect on neurites' outgrowth with high sensitivity. We use the intact nervous system of the leech to extend the study to in vivo models.
The novel biolistic setup enables the delivery of different micro and nano carriers loaded with cargos for gene expression manipulations and drug delivery.
We collaborate with the laboratory of Prof. Zalevsky on projects related to DNA manipulation using gold nanoparticles. Using a combination of molecular biology techniques such as PCR, cloning, and gel electrophoresis with engineering techniques such as heating nanoparticles with laser, we develop techniques for DNA cleavage at specific points and detection of DNA mutations.
We also study theoretical aspects of the nervous system. We use the Hodgkin Huxley model to explore the axonal response to external current stimuli. A detailed analysis is conducted for the space clamp model and expanded to the cable model to examine the influence of axonal morphology and temperature on activity patterns. The data, as derived by bifurcation diagrams, reveal unique stimulus regimes that generate a finite number of spikes, as well as spike series followed by failures. For specific current stimulus regimes, chaotic behavior is observed. It is presumed that these controllable firing patterns are an instrumental mechanism for information coding.