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Axonal Regeneration


High-throughput Microfluidics for Axon Regeneration Studies in C. elegans

Understanding the biological mechanisms of nerve regeneration and degeneration is an important step towards the development of novel therapies for human neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer's, Parkinson's, Huntington's, and other neurological disorders affecting millions of people. The regeneration processes can be studied by severing an axon in a controlled manner and then observing its re-growth and functional recovery.

The goal of this research project is to develop a high-throughput laser nano-surgery platform for axon regeneration & degeneration studies in C. elegans in-vivo. Specifically, an integrated microfluidic device will be developed to trap and immobilize the worms. This microfluidic trap will facilitate the appropriate immobilization of the worms for precision nanosurgery of axons using femtosecond laser pulses and for imaging the re-growth of the injured axons following nanosurgery. Development of a high throughput screening platform requires integration of different modules for nanosurgery, feeding, and imaging and their synchronization through computer controlled automation. A platform having 100ís of chambers for feeding of individual worms will facilitate automated surgical and screening studies of multiple worms, thus greatly reducing time and cost.

The figure above illustrates a microfluidic chip for immobilizing single worms and performing nano-axotomy in their axons


Samuel X Guo, Frederic Bourgeois, Trushal Chokshi, Nicholas J Durr, Massimo A Hilliard, Nikos Chronis & Adela Ben-Yakar
Femtosecond laser nanoaxotomy lab-on-a-chip for
in vivo nerve regeneration studies, Nature Methods - 5, 531 - 533 (2008) Published online: 13 April 2008.

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