Electrophysiological-mechanical coupled pulses in neural membranes: a new paradigm for clinical therapy of SCI and TBI (NeuroPulse)

Lead Research Organisation: University of Oxford
Department Name: Engineering Science

Abstract

The studentship is part of the project "Electrophysiological-mechanical coupled pulses in neural membranes: a new paradigm for clinical therapy of SCI and TBI (NeuroPulse), which aims at developing and utilising state of the art modelling and experimental approaches for the study of electrophysiological and mechanical coupling in a healthy and mechanically damaged axon, nerve and eventually spinal cord and brain white matter tract. More specifically, the project will aim at: a) evaluating the role of this newly identified electrophysiological-mechanical coupling in pulses in TBI/SCI related functional deficits and, as a pilot application: b) at posing the basis for the design of a device leveraging this coupling for spinal cord pain management by cancelling effect (and reversibly, for signal enhancement). Both objectives will considerably benefit the medical community in the diagnosis, prognosis, and treatment of TBI and SCI, while providing new avenues for non-invasive electrophysiological control.

The student will focus on the experimental programme in collaboration with the Department of Physics and will aim at designing an experimental setup for the measurements of mechanical vibrations in electrically excited neurons, and vice versa.

Publications

10 25 50

Studentship Projects

Project Reference Relationship Related To Start End Student Name
EP/N509711/1 01/10/2016 30/09/2021
1928752 Studentship EP/N509711/1 01/01/2017 30/06/2020 Miren Tamayo Elizalde
 
Description I have gathered experimental data on how mechanics affect the neuronal electrical signal, proving the mechanoelectrical coupling in neurons (brain cells).
Exploitation Route Neuronal Mechanics has not been taken into consideration traditionally. However, the evidence I gathered, together with efforts from different groups, have shown that we are able to generate and/or modify the electrical neuronal signal by mechanical means. Ultimately, this has applications in using ultrasound to treat neurological diseases.
Sectors Healthcare,Pharmaceuticals and Medical Biotechnology

 
Title Multiphysics platform for simultaneous mechano-electrophysiological studies of in vitro cells 
Description A milestone of my project so far has consisted in designing, building and optimising a multiphysics rig to study the mechano-electrical coupling in neurons. It combines the patch clamp technique, that allows single cell electrophysiological studies, with nanoindentation of the same single cell, for simultaneous mechanical properties measurement. 
Type Of Material Technology assay or reagent 
Year Produced 2019 
Provided To Others? No  
Impact I have only managed to fit both probes in the same neuronal cell body in the last months, hence since then I have not got any conclusive results. However, I have planned a set of experiments that are currently ongoing. 
 
Title Simultaneous nanoindentation and patch clamp on single neuronal cells 
Description I have had positive results combining nanoindentation and patch clamp techniques on a single neuronal cell body. Both techniques allow for continuous microscopy inspection too. 
Type Of Material Technology assay or reagent 
Year Produced 2020 
Provided To Others? Yes  
Impact Combining single cell mechanical indentation with electrophysiology techniques is not straightforward. This setups combines two commercialised and ready to use instruments and shows the necessary optimisation steps. The setup facilitates the study of multi-physical phenomena at the single cell level. 
 
Description Inspire young children to discover more about scientific insights through fun and dynamic bubble experiments 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Local
Primary Audience Other audiences
Results and Impact It was a MPLS funded activity. We designed and performed easy educative experiments involving bubbles in order to attract children and show them how Science can also be enjoyable as well as instructive. We did 3 sessions in different locations of Oxfordshire, the last one and main one being at the Oxford University Museum of Natural History.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019
URL https://twitter.com/NeuronsOf
 
Description Women in Engineering committee 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Local
Primary Audience Undergraduate students
Results and Impact I have been helping out in the Women in Engineering committee, organising events such as Fresher's Fair and recruiting Undergraduate Engineering female students. We will be hosting the International Women in Engineering day in June and are already promoting it.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018,2019
URL https://eng.ox.ac.uk/women-in-engineering/