What is it about?

We've created a new way to build tiny nerve-control devices inside the body that can help treat diseases by adjusting the body's immune responses. Usually, making these devices is tough because nerves spread out in many areas, such as within muscles, and standard electronic parts only sometimes work well with the body's moving and complex nerve systems. To solve this, our team developed a unique material that can shape itself to fit the body's tissues. This material is injected near specific nerves, forming a flexible, body-friendly connection. It works by using a chemical reaction to become conductive and biodegradable. In our experiments with mice, these nerve-control devices helped repair damaged nerves and restore their functions. They also work in a way that influences the whole body's immune system, helping to calm down extreme immune reactions like those seen in severe infections.

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Why is it important?

Our research is necessary because it shows a new way to make electronics that can adapt to the body's inner environment. This can be a big step forward in treating nerve injuries and brain disorders and in understanding how different nerve circuits in the body work together.


In our research, we've devised a new way to adjust the body's immune system, both in specific areas and overall, by changing the structure of certain materials that conduct electricity. These materials are placed on nerves in the body. Our method is better than older ones because it controls the potentially harmful effects and breakdown of the materials when injected and activated. We do this by using a particular chemical reaction to fine-tune how these materials stick to the nerves, change their shape, and break down over time. We're also looking into making these materials even better at assembling themselves inside the body. By tweaking their basic structure, we can make them stick to tissues more effectively and control how they break down after doing their job. Additionally, we're exploring a technique to target specific genes to ensure cells create these conductive materials right where we want them. This could allow us to stimulate and monitor specific cells or nerves more precisely. We're also working to control this material-creation process with light to create detailed structures inside cells and keep the materials from spreading too much inside the body. We aim to use these advancements to understand better and influence the connection between the body's peripheral (outer) and central (brain and spinal cord) nervous systems. This could lead to new ways to control animal behavior, thinking, and immune responses. Finally, our study shows the practicality of using different strategies to build these nerve-controlling devices. Compared to older methods, this approach could provide a more effective and comprehensive way to interact with the nervous system.

Zhanhong Du

Read the Original

This page is a summary of: Doping-induced assembly interface for noninvasive in vivo local and systemic immunomodulation, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, November 2023, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences,
DOI: 10.1073/pnas.2306777120.
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