Doped Silicon Nanowires for the Selective Modulation of Single-cells



    • Electric stimulation of organs with implantable devices has demonstrated clinical utility for the treatment of a variety of diseases such as cardiac arrythmia. However, use of these technologies remains high risk, requiring either surgical implantation or permanent gene editing.
    • The inventors synthesized silicon nanowires that are doped with gold catalyst that when irradiated with cell penetrating sub-UV light, initiate a specific cellular response in excitable cells. The wires are targeted to a specific cell population by attenuating wire surface functionalization, can be delivered in a pharmaceutical formulation, and require no implanted power source.
    • The product is an optical stimulation system of doped silicon nanowires (PIN-SiNWs) that initiate membrane depolarization in a specific cell type, in turn resulting in a specific cellular response. Light irradiation protocols can be designed to provoke a desired cell response such as T cell inactivation or neuronal action potential.
    • The inventors demonstrated the capability of their silicone nanowires to induce local depolarization or an action potential in primary rat dorsal root ganglion neurons as measured by micropipette photocurrent electrodes. They further demonstrated the ability of the nanowires to specifically deactivate T cells, as measured by a decrease in ERK phosphorylation.



    A) Schematic illustrating current produced by the invention nanowire as it is used to stimulate a neuronal action potential. B) Sample data from application of silicone nanowires to individual neurons. Neurons were stimulated with either a patch clamp mimicking current standard of care electrodes (blue line) or by irradiating the invention nanowires with sub-UV light (green line) induces a similar action potential in neurons. Shown are representative traces from three individual neuron action potentials. Irradiation and patch clamp stimulation were performed at 10Hz, 20Hz and 40Hz, all shown in the figure.





    • Cell specific
    • Less Invasive
    • No genetic modifications required
    • Deliverable in drug-like fashion
    • Programable degradation time



    • Immunotherapy (T cell or B cell modulation)
    • Pain disorder therapy (Neuron modulation)






    • PCT/US19/18620



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