Over the last decade, three-dimensional in vitro biological models have emerged proving to reliably mimic the microenvironment of living tissues and bridge the gap within vivo animal models. These modeling systems have become a highly promising tool for understanding the mysteries of the brain, one of the biggest scientific challenges of the century.
The 3D approach enables far better disease modeling and preclinical pharmacokinetic studies than its 2D predecessor. However, increasing use of this revolutionary technique has revealed the limitations of existing methods for measuring the activity of neurons packed in a 3D environment.
The 'z-dimension' poses serious limits on optical measurements as well as on conventional planar micro electrode arrays (MEAs). Standard cell culture model measuring techniques can only monitor events on the surface of biological samples, thus missing the neuronal processing, taking place in the three dimensions.
3Brain, the first company in the world to design and realize high-resolution MEAs, has developed a new MEA chip - Khíron, in partnership with CSEM within an Innosuisse project. The new application-specific integrated circuit (ASIC) provides a high-density MEA specifically targeting intra-tissue measurement of a 3D structure in vitro models by integrating a micro-needle for each electrode for in vitro penetration of brain tissue. It also includes a microfluidic structure at the base of the chip for fluidic exchange even from the bottom layers, unlike most conventional MEA devices.
According to Mauro Gandolfo, CEO of 3Brain, "With our new technology, we aimed to get inside the tissue and replicate the right environment with continuous cell perfusion so that measurements are much more predictive of what will happen in clinical trials." The Khíron chip gives neuroscientists the tool they have been waiting for to solve their problems and acquire the information they want from 3D in vitro models. I think it will have a big impact on disease modeling for Alzheimer's and Parkinson's and also in the study of conditions like epilepsy and autism."