MxW Customer Testimonial with Jens Duru
Laboratory of Biosensors and Bioelectronics (LBB), ETH Zurich, Switzerland, coordinated by Prof. Dr. Janos Vörös
“The MaxOne+ Chip provides the same high electrode density as the previous MaxOne Chip. We appreciate most about the new chip that its surface is flat, which enables hassle-free adhesion of PDMS microstructures.”
Recently we visited Jens Duru at the Laboratory of Biosensors and Bioelectronics (LBB), ETH Zurich, Switzerland where we captured Jens in the lab using our MaxOne HD-MEA system along with our new MaxOne+ Chip. Jens is one of our first customers to try our new MaxOne+ Chip which will be launched soon. We also took the opportunity to discuss with Jens his research and how our products play a key role his work.
Could you please summarize your research for us?
Understanding the brain poses one of the biggest challenges of the 21st century. Currently, research in this field revolves around two approaches: First, the study of individual neurons by electronic and biochemical means and, second, the imaging of the whole brain using MRI. At LBB, we have developed a tool-box to create a bridge between these two approaches: We build small networks of neurons with controlled topography on a chip by using microstructures to confine the attachment of neurons, the direction of the neurite growth and the formation of synapses. This allows us to study the activity of such bottom-up neural networks and, thus, the basic processes of memory and learning. These experiments have immediate relevance for biomedical electronic devices such as deep-brain electrodes and implanted biosensors. In addition, the controlled small neural networks can be used to test the effect of potential drug candidates for the treatment of central nervous system diseases.
Can you explain how you are using MaxWell Biosystems products for your research?
We are using the MaxOne Chips in combination with polydimethylsiloxane (PDMS) based microstructures, that we adhere directly onto the surface of the MEA. Doing so allows us to establish small, engineered neural networks whose topology are defined by the design of the microstructure. Currently we are using primary rat neurons and iPSC derived human neurons in dissociated form or in the form of spheroids. We have developed a toolbox that allows us to stimulate the networks and study the immediate post-stimulus response of the neurons.
In relation to the MaxOne+ Chip, which feature of the chip do you appreciate the most?
The MaxOne+ Chip provides the same high electrode density as the previous MaxOne Chip. We are able to track the propagation and processing of information in engineered biological neural networks with extremely high spatial resolution. We appreciate most about the new chip that its surface is flat, which enables hassle-free adhesion of PDMS microstructures without the necessity of an intermediate glue or any other pretreatment.
Jens Duru and Blandine Clément with MaxOne HD-MEA System and MaxOne+ Chip, ETH Zurich, 2022
Have there been any challenges and how did MaxWell Biosystems help to resolve them?
We had quite some challenges in combining our bottom-up neuroscience approach with the old MaxOne Chips, due to the complex topography of their surface. MaxWell Biosystems supported us in providing many chips in order to optimize our gluing approach to ensure optimal adhesion of the microstructure to the chip. Once the new MaxOne+ Chips were available in a beta-phase, MaxWell Biosystems generously supplied us some to perform early tests and therefore kickstarted much more complicated microstructure and experiment designs.
Jens Duru and co-authors initially solved the PDMS attachment issue in this paper
How was your experience with PDMS attachment (and cell plating) with the new MaxOne+ Chip compared to the standard MaxOne Chip?
It just works. We can apply the PDMS microstructure with no additional glue or pretreatment of the surface. It saves a lot of time and resources and the result never disappoints.
Since 2019, Jens Duru has been a PhD student in the Laboratory of Biosensors and Bioelectronics at ETH, supervised by Prof. Janos Vörös. His current research focuses on bottom up neuroscience, with an emphasis on engineered neuronal networks on CMOS based MEAs. He obtained his Bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering from Universität Kassel in Germany in 2017. Following this, he continued his postgraduate education at ETH Zürich with a Master’s degree in Biomedical Engineering with a focus on Bioelectronics.
Jens Duru, Joël Küchler, Stephan J. Ihle, Csaba Forró, Aeneas Bernardi, Sophie Girardin, Julian Hengsteler, Stephen Wheeler, János Vörös and Tobias Ruff
Frontiers in Molecular Neuroscience, February 2022