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A polymer optoelectronic interface restores light sensitivity in blind rat retinas

Nature Photonics volume 7, pages 400406 (2013) | Download Citation

Abstract

Interfacing organic electronics with biological substrates offers new possibilities for biotechnology by taking advantage of the beneficial properties exhibited by organic conducting polymers. These polymers have been used for cellular interfaces in several applications, including cellular scaffolds, neural probes, biosensors and actuators for drug release. Recently, an organic photovoltaic blend has been used for neuronal stimulation via a photo-excitation process. Here, we document the use of a single-component organic film of poly(3-hexylthiophene) (P3HT) to trigger neuronal firing upon illumination. Moreover, we demonstrate that this bio–organic interface restores light sensitivity in explants of rat retinas with light-induced photoreceptor degeneration. These findings suggest that all-organic devices may play an important future role in subretinal prosthetic implants.

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Acknowledgements

The authors thank M. Nanni, G. Pruzzo and F. Succol for technical advice and M. dal Maschio and P. Baldelli for help with data interpretation and discussions. The authors also thank A.J. Heeger, P. Greengard, L.M. Chalupa and L. Maffei for critical reading of the manuscript. The research was supported by the FP7-PEOPLE-212-ITN (‘OLIMPIA’ grant #316832), the Fondazione Istituto Italiano di Tecnologia (‘Multidisciplinary Projects’) and Telethon – Italy (GGP12033 grant to G.L., F.B. and S.B.). The authors also acknowledge support from M. Monti and by R. and I. Munari Gloder. The manuscript was revised by the American Journal Experts editing organization.

Author information

Affiliations

  1. Department of Neuroscience and Brain Technologies, Istituto Italiano di Tecnologia, Genova 16163, Italy

    • Diego Ghezzi
    •  & Fabio Benfenati
  2. Center for Nano Science and Technology@PoliMi, Istituto Italiano di Tecnologia, Milano 20133, Italy

    • Maria Rosa Antognazza
    • , Sebastiano Bellani
    • , Erica Lanzarini
    • , Nicola Martino
    •  & Guglielmo Lanzani
  3. Dipartimento di Tecnologie Biomediche, Università dell'Aquila, L'Aquila 67100, Italy

    • Rita Maccarone
    •  & Silvia Bisti
  4. Department of Physics, Politecnico di Milano, Piazza L. Da Vinci 32, Milano 20133, Italy

    • Sebastiano Bellani
    • , Nicola Martino
    •  & Guglielmo Lanzani
  5. UO Oculistica, Ospedale S. Cuore-Don Calabria, Negrar 37024, Italy

    • Maurizio Mete
    •  & Grazia Pertile
  6. Department of Experimental Medicine, University of Genova, Genova 16163, Italy

    • Fabio Benfenati

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Contributions

D.G. prepared cell cultures, degenerate animals and retinal explants, planned experiments, performed photostimulation experiments and cell viability assays, analysed data and wrote the manuscript. M.R.A. planned the experiments, discussed the results and wrote the manuscript. R.M. prepared degenerate animals, performed retinal sections and acquired confocal images. E.L. prepared polymer samples. S.Be., E.L. and N.M. performed polymer-film electro-optical characterization and analysed data. M.M. and G.P. discussed results. S.Bi. discussed electrophysiological experiments with retinal explants. G.L. and F.B. planned experiments, interpreted and discussed the data, wrote the manuscript and supported the research. All authors discussed the results and revised the manuscript.

Competing interests

The authors declare no competing financial interests.

Corresponding authors

Correspondence to Guglielmo Lanzani or Fabio Benfenati.

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DOI

https://doi.org/10.1038/nphoton.2013.34

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