Silk Biomaterials Enable Living Technologies Targeting Brain Cells
Valentina Benfenati and Roberto Zamboni
In this era of heightened environmental awareness and of increasing demand for more eco-sustainable manufacturing processes, a major challenge is moving from non-renewable energy manufacturing to “eco-sustainable” processes. The use of biologically based materials, and their technological integration, provides a compelling path towards this goal. The emerging field of living technologies targeting brain cells probing and recording might be a relevant and realistic market opportunity for natural biopolymers. In particular, biopolymers integrated in implantable device or in vitro chips enabling electrophysiological recording of brain cells are highly demanded for the near future neurological application as well as for neuroscience investigation. Among others, silk fibroin, the natural protein biopolymer produced by the Bombyx Mori, is an attractive and promising material for applications in organic photonics, electronics and optoelectronics. In this context, we review on our achievements the development of a portfolio of silk-based material interface and device targeting interaction and bidirectional communication with brain cells. Nonetheless, we report on our ability to set and control all the steps for biomanufacturing silk-based living technologies.
A strategic perspectives towards unexplored use of biomaterials interface in the context of sub-atomic “quantum” sensing and control of cell functionality is also envisioned.
Keywords: silk, biomaterials, silk fibroin, silk based materials, brain cells probing