Mimicking Brain Connectivity with a Graphene–Carbon Nanotube Web [Video]

by | Jan 15, 2019

A cortex-like, 3D model of the brain can be used to screen drugs against diseases such as malignant glioma infiltration.

Malignant brain tumors can be particularly aggressive. Studying their biological processes in vitro is a goal of many researchers. 3D in vitro models that mimic the brain’s complexity could help to achieve this goal.

In Advanced Materials, Prof. Guosheng Cheng from the Chinese Academy of Sciences; Dr. Francesco Paolo Ulloa Severino from Duke University Medical Center; Prof. Vincent Torre from the International School for Advanced Studies (SISSA), Suzhou Institute of Systems Medicine (ISM)-SISSA, and the Chinese Academy of Sciences; and their co-workers develop a 3D-cortex-like network.

Carbon nanotubes (CNTs) are grown in and around the pores of a graphene foam (GF) to produce a graphene–carbon nanotube (GCNT) web.

The GCNT web is highly porous and biocompatible, supporting the growth of cortical cells in all directions, creating a dense neural network resembling in vivo networks. The GCNT web shows better electrical conductivity than traditional GFs, with seeded cortical cells exhibiting spontaneous electrical activity within the GCNT network.

Cancerous glioma cells exhibited better growth and proliferation throughout than GCNT web than throughout GFs, due to their increased elasticity and conductivity.

This 3D GCNT web demonstrates a cost-effective and precise screening tool to study biological processes in vitro—a pivotal step towards precise personalized medicine.

To find out more about these 3D, bioengineered networks, please visit the Advanced Materials homepage.