Electromagnetic fields affect a variety of tissues (e.g. bone, muscle, nerve and skin) and play important roles in a multitude of biological processes (e.g. nerve sprouting, prenatal development and wound healing), mediated by subcellular level changes, including alterations in protein distribution, gene expression, metal ion content, and action potentials. This has inspired the development of electrically conducting devices for biomedical applications, including biosensors, drug delivery devices, cardiac/neural electrodes and tissue scaffolds. It is noteworthy that there are a number of FDA approved devices capable of electrical stimulation in the body, including cardiac pacemakers, bionic eyes, bionic ears and electrodes for deep brain stimulation; all of which are designed for long term implantation.
Polymers are ubiquitous in daily life, and conducting polymers (e.g. polyaniline, polypyrrole, poly(3,4-ethylenedioxythiophene)) have shown themselves to be capable of electrically stimulating cells in vitro. Furthermore, when implanted into small mammals (e.g. mice, rats and rabbits) their immunogenicities are similar to FDA-approved polymers such as poly(lactic-co-glycolic acid) (PLGA), supporting their safety in vivo. These preclinical studies suggest that conducting polymer-based biomaterials are promising for clinical translation.
Multiphoton Fabrication of Bioelectronic Biomaterials for Neuromodulation (MFBBN) project aims to use multiphoton fabrication to print conducting biomaterials for neuromodulation. The project objectives are to prepare conducting polymer-based materials; characterize their physicochemical and electrical properties; and validate the efficacy of the bioelectronic devices to interact with brain tissue ex vivo.