Scientists can trust a powerful light when it comes to recording and stimulating brain activity. A scientific group, led by IIT-Italian Institute of Technology, has developed nanometric light modulators that are fabricated on a micrometric optical fiber. The new approach, which is published in the journal''s front cover, is intended to help develop specific brain diseases. Including brain tumors and epilepsy, the nanomodulators will be used to simulate and study brain tumors.
In collaboration with the University of Salento (Italy), the Politecnico of Bari (Italy), the Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Cientificas (CSIC, Spain) and the Centro National de Investigaciones Oncologicas (CNIO, Spain), IIT conducted the study.
Filippo Pisano, a researcher at IIT''s Center for Biomolecular Nanotechnologies (CBN) in Lecce, Italy, is the first author of this study. Marco Grande of the Politecnico di Bari and CBN Principal Investigators Ferruccio Pisanello and Massimo De Vittorio are both in charge of the research.
In Italy, an interdisciplinary team aimed to obtain micrometric structures capable of studying neuronal tissue in a detail through light, i.e. through the incorporation of optical nanomodulators. In order to do this, scientists combined expertise in nanometer-scale fabrication and biomedical neuro-engineering, combining expertise in nanometer-scale fabrication and biomedical bio-engineering to better understand the world of surface plasmon polaritons and develop an investigative tool that improves and enhances
They fashioned a circle of nanoscopic optical elements, each one containing 100 nm thin lines, that they were validated in a series of microscopy and optical spectroscopy experiments.
Fortunately, this method was able to obtain an algorithm that permits to control both the probe light beam modulation and the local electric field acting on surfaces comparable to the size of brain cells. Researchers may then be able to examine the interaction between the light beam and neuronal structures even in the deepest areas of the brain.
The possibility of developing such implantable plasmonic systems has given a different perspective in the study of the central nervous system: the nanostructure amplification is intended to be a reliable tool for discovering the biochemical and cellular structure differences that explain the origin of several neural disorders.
CSIC''s external research group, led by Manuel Valiente, will investigate the use of this new technology to distinguish primary from metastatic tumors, which are different treatments, as well as the use of light to permeabilize the blood-brain barrier, which allows anti-tumour drugs to pass through the vascular barrier.