D. Techniques for Neuroscience & Drug Delivery

Existing nanoscale chemical delivery systems target diseased cells over long, sustained periods of time, typically through one-time, destructive triggering. Future directions lie in the development of fast and robust techniques capable of reproducing the pulsatile chemical activity of living organisms, thereby allowing us to mimic biofunctionality.

In collaboration with the Wickens Unit, the Femtosecond Spectroscopy Unit has recently demonstrated that by applying programmed femtosecond laser pulses to robust, nanoscale liposome structures containing dopamine, we achieve sub-second, controlled release of dopamine – a key neurotransmitter of the central nervous system – thereby replicating its release profile in the brain. The fast delivery system provides a powerful new interface with neural circuits, and to the larger range of biological functions that operate on this short timescale [6, 7].

Current efforts in this collaboration are directed towards demonstrations in vivo, and thereby interfacing with neural functioning via controlled release of neurochemicals.

[6] T. Nakano, et al. Scientific Reports 4, 5398 (2014)

[7] T. Nakano, et al. Neurotransmitter 1, e424 (2014)