Area I: Magnetic manipulation and recording of neuronal signaling with nanomaterials
Magnetic fields can penetrate deep into the body without being attenuated due to low conductivity and negligible magnetic permeability of the biological matter. By delivering magnetic nanomaterials into biological systems we enable manipulation of a variety of physiological processes with weak magnetic fields. Through a combination of magnetic nanomaterials synthesis and characterization, we create a diversity of magnetic nanotransducers capable of selectively converting distinct magnetic fields into specific signals perceived by receptors in neurons. To date, we have developed nanotransducers that undergo heating (Science 2015) in rapidly alternating magnetic fields to trigger heat-sensitive ion channels as well as nanotransducers that exert a physical torque (ACS Nano 2019) stimulating mechanosensitive ion channels. By coupling heating to thermosensitive reactions, we have demonstrated nanotransducers that can deliver ions (Nano Lett. 2020) and pharmacological compounds (Nat. Nanotechnol. 2019) to target chemoreceptors. We have applied our nanotransducers to wirelessly and minimally-invasively manipulate neuronal activity, hormonal release (Sci. Adv. 2020), and behavior (Nat. Comm. 2021) under physiological and pathological conditions. Our current work continues to explore fundamental properties of magnetic nanomaterials with the goal of expanding the array of available magnetic modalities for neuromodulation. We are additionally interested in delivery and visualization of our materials within specific organs and specific cell types.