Substrates for culturing and stimulating neural cells

An Italian research group has patented a substrate comprising a textured surface with a plurality of protrusions and a bulk portion, for promoting neural cell network growth in vitro and/or ex-vivo, for a culturing method and for complex neural cell 5 network reconstruction. The invention also includes a stimulation device and a monitor device comprising the substrate and their uses. They are looking for financial, joint venture or licence agreements.
This technology offer is the result of a project based and inspired by the activity devoted to the development of a new generation of sensors and electrodes based on nanotechnology materials of neural interfacing. The project aimed in designing and fabricating a prototype of an active implant that could work directly at the spinal-cord level, something that is not possible with the present technology. This implant will allow restoring the transmission of electrical signals in injured axon tracks of the spinal cord, acting ad a local bypass. This technology offers a novel perspective and is complementary to, but independent from, present neural regenerative techniques under investigation. Due to some limitations, electrodes are currently placed at the brain to detected electric potentials, or at the muscles to trigger functional electrical stimulation (FES). Technology originated from the exploration the group did about the use of electrodes coated with a variety of nanowire for improve electrical stimulation capabilities. The research proved that the nano-structure of these electrodes can offer an enhanced adhesion as well as efficiency when compared to conventional FES electrodes. From this background originated the idea of innovative substrates for supporting cell growth and allowing cell stimulation. The main object of the project is to develop a cost-effective, easy to use substrate that will promote cell growth and interfacing within a cell or tissue culture, in particular guiding network growth. In contrast with the substrates known in the art, the use of the substrate of the invention wherein its textured surface has a plurality of protrusions, it presents improved interaction with cells and allows the growing of active cell cultures on it. Moreover, the use of the substrate of the invention, in particular its textured surface, provide cultured cells with mechanical cues and play an important role to direct cellular functions and tissue organization. In addition, the substrate of the present invention is bio-compatible. In order to exploit the research results, they are looking for financial, joint venture or licence agreements to be established with pharma companies/Investors interested in acquiring and co-developing the technology.
Type (e.g. company, R&D institution…), field of industry and Role of Partner Sought: 
Pharma Companies/Investors interested in acquiring and co-developing the technology.
Stage of Development: 
Under development/lab tested
Comments Regarding Stage of Development: 
The project has being developed by an Italian research center in collaboration with a Spanish research center. Further developments are expected in the coming months also depending on the identification of appropriate partnership.
IPR Status: 
Patent(s) applied for but not yet granted
Comments Regarding IPR Status: 
The patent owners are: Italian Research Center 1 (50%), Spanish Research Center (50%). Supplementary material and supporting data available upon request.
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