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Bioelectronic tools to study the gut-brain axis

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The human gut microbiome has emerged as a key player in the bidirectional communication of the gut-brain axis, affecting various aspects of homeostasis and pathophysiology. Until recently, the majority of studies that seek to explore the mechanisms underlying the microbiome-gut-brain axis relied almost exclusively on animal models, and particularly gnotobiotic mice. Despite the great progress made with these models, various limitations, including ethical considerations and interspecies differences that limit the translatability of data to human systems, pushed researchers to seek for alternatives. Physiologically relevant in vitro human models, as well as advanced tools to study in vivo animal models, are urgently required. In this talk I’ll discuss a new generation of electronic tools, based on organic electronic materials, for understanding the gut-brain-microbiome axis. First, I’ll discuss our progress towards generating a complete platform of the human microbiota-gut-brain axis with integrated monitoring and sensing capabilities. Bringing together principles of materials science, tissue engineering, 3D cell biology and bioelectronics, we are building advanced models of the GI and the BBB /NVU, with integrated real-time and label-free electronic monitoring, aiming to elucidate the role of microbiota in the gut-brain axis communication. Second, I’ll discuss conformable electronic devices we’ve developed for both ex-situ measurements of GI tissue from rats, as well as in vivo experiments in live rats. These devices allow highly sensitive monitoring of impedance of the tissue (as an indicator of gut health) as well as the enteric nervous system.

This talk is part of the SciSoc – Cambridge University Scientific Society series.

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