With the development of transplantology, scientists have begunfind more and more opportunities to keep tissues viable as long as possible after removing them from the body. This is useful not only for organ transplants, but also for their study. In this case, the most “capricious” tissue in this regard remains the tissue of the central nervous system, which must be investigated, as a rule, “here and now”. However, a group of scientists managed to develop a way to preserve nerve tissue for several weeks. And this is a real breakthrough!
How to keep the brain alive during transplantation?
Unfortunately, we’re not talking about a brain transplant yet,but the discovery, made by experts from the RIKEN Research Center in Japan, can undoubtedly help in the future if serious scientists, rather than Sergio Canavero, start talking about transplanting neural tissue. Although, it is quite possible that the "scientist" will still "shoot", which we very much doubt. But if this happens, we will immediately inform you about it in our Telegram channel.
But back to the invention of the Japanese: The new system uses a microfluidic device that can hold tissue from drying out, as well as from the accumulation of fluid in it, because body tissues are very well permeable to various solutions. That is why “just putting” tissue in a nutrient medium will not work. On the other hand, a lack of nutrient medium will cause tissue to die not only from a lack of nutrients, but also from “drying out” and the lack of gas exchange between tissues.
To solve this problem, RIKEN scientistsdeveloped a device using polydimethylsiloxane (PDMS), a material often used as an antifoam in various preparations. The new device has a semi-permeable channel surrounded by an artificial membrane and solid PDMS walls. Instead of being constantly immersed in liquid, the tissue “benefited” from the fact that the nutrient medium circulated inside the system and passed through a permeable membrane, which allowed for proper gas exchange. It sounds simple, but finding the optimal conditions was extremely difficult.
The flow control in the environment was difficultbecause the microchannel that formed between the walls of the PDMS and the porous membrane has non-standard physical properties. Nevertheless, we succeeded after numerous trial and error. - notes the leading author of the robot, Dr. Nobutoshi Ota.
The team tested the device usingtissue of the suprachiasmatic nucleus of the mouse brain, the complex part of the central nervous system that controls circadian rhythms. In a series of experiments, it was possible to keep the tissue active and functional for more than 25 days. At the same time, the core still had good circadian activity. However, in parallel, the same area of the brain acted as control, but it was preserved in a normal environment. In it, neural activity decreased by 6% after 10 hours, and later the tissue completely ceased to fulfill its function.
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According to the authors of the work, the new method will haveseveral advantages. In the short term, it will be useful for observing biological development and testing how the tissues respond to central nervous system drugs. Long-term benefits are also obvious - transplantation. And a team of experts is currently planning to develop both of these areas.