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