'Brain-on-a-Chip' Helps Test Chem/Bio Agent Effects, Develops Countermeasures & Antidotes

LLNL researchers Heather Enright (left) and Anna Belle hold the brain-on-a-chip device and a microelectrode array.

LLNL researchers Heather Enright (left) and Anna Belle hold the brain-on-a-chip device and a microelectrode array.

January 1, 2018 | Source: Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, 18 December 2017

Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL) scientists and engineers have developed a “brain-on-a-chip” device aimed at testing and predicting the effects of biological and chemical agents, disease or pharmaceutical drugs on the brain over time without the need for human or animal subjects.

The device, part of the Lab’s iCHIP (in-vitro Chip-Based Human Investigational Platform) project, simulates the central nervous system by recording neural activity from multiple brain cell types deposited and grown onto microelectrode arrays. The platform, described in the journal PLOS One (link is external), could help scientists understand how brain cells connect and interact, combat brain disorders, determine how soldiers are affected by exposure to chemical and biological weapons and develop antidotes to counteract those effects.