One example comes from Dr. Qi Zhang’s group at Vanderbilt University School of Medicine with an article recently published in Nature Communications. Lead author Kristina Kitko grew neurons on glass slides with and without monolayer graphene sheets. She found that the plasma membranes of neurons grown on graphene sheets showed higher levels of cholesterol, a neurotransmitter that enables communication between cells, than when the neurons were grown on glass alone! This has large implications because the increase in cholesterol has the potential for increasing neurotransmission, an ability that would greatly impact biomedicine.
Many neurological disorders such as depression and Parkinson’s disease are caused by a reduction in neurotransmitters like serotonin and dopamine. Imagine if a small flexible graphene-based implant could be inserted into areas of the brain known to be affected. It might be possible to increase neurotransmitters and drive the production of some neurotransmitters over others. Now that is something aspire to!
Read the full open-access Nature Communications paper.