This project seeks to develop a wireless, minimally invasive bi-directional deep brain stimulation technology based on remote heating of magnetic nanoparticles. Reliably modulating the activity of specific neuronal populations is essential to establishing causal links between neural firing patterns and observed behaviors. Electrical stimulation, as well as its recent non-invasive alternatives, ultrasound and electromagnetic induction, do not discriminate between cell types and have limited spatial resolution. Genetic approaches such as DREADDs and optogenetics enable neural excitation and inhibition with exquisite precision in specific cell populations. However, they require long-term indwelling hardware (limiting clinical translation) or lack temporal resolution. In this project, we propose to evaluate a nanoparticle-based technology that can access the deep brain regions, excite and inhibit neurons, and be fully wireless after initial injection. The Anikeeva (MIT) and Pralle (SUNY Buffalo) groups have recently shown that heat dissipation by magnetic nanoparticles (MNPs) in alternating magnetic fields (AMFs) can trigger heat-sensitive capsaicin receptor TRPV1 and heat-sensitive chloride channel anoctamine 1 (ANO1), respectively. These, in turn, can depolarize or silence neurons, and we have preliminary evidence for effects both in vitro and in vivo. Finally, the Anikeeva group has made advances in nanomaterials chemistry that enables multiplexing: independent heating of multiple MNP types (implying control of multiple neighboring neural populations) using AMF with distinct amplitudes and frequencies. Our objective is to combine these technologies into a magnetothermal toolbox and demonstrate its ability to shape animal behavior, by manipulating a well-characterized midbrain reward circuit. We will refine the ANO1 inhibitory technology and demonstrate control of place aversion in mice (Aim 1), then merge this technology with TRPV1-facilitated excitation in context of magnetic multiplexing to show bi-directional control of place aversion/preference (Aim 2). From this proof of concept, Aim 3 seeks to demonstrate that the toolkit can also control a more complex behavior (gambling/ probabilistic reward learning) in a larger species (rat). We will carry out this project through a tightly integrated combination of expertise in nanoscale engineering (Anikeeva, Pralle), targeted neural modulation (Anikeeva, Pralle), behavior manipulation through midbrain modulation (Widge) and clinical psychiatric deep brain stimulation (Widge).

Public Health Relevance

This project aims to develop a minimally invasive, wireless, implant-free approach to stimulate the deep and superficial brain. By combining magnetic nanoparticles and heat-sensitive ion channels, we expect to show that we can both activate and inhibit individual neurons, and further that we can 'multiplex': specifically drive two different brain areas based on the magnetic particle properties and magnetic field conditions. We will demonstrate these capabilities in a midbrain reward circuit involving ventral tegmental area, lateral habenula, and nucleus accumbens, where brain stimulation is known to readily shape rodent behavior.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH)
Research Project (R01)
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Special Emphasis Panel (ZMH1)
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Friedman, Fred K
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Massachusetts Institute of Technology
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United States
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Guerin, Bastien; Serano, Peter; Iacono, Maria Ida et al. (2018) Realistic modeling of deep brain stimulation implants for electromagnetic MRI safety studies. Phys Med Biol 63:095015
Munshi, Rahul; Qadri, Shahnaz M; Pralle, Arnd (2018) Transient Magnetothermal Neuronal Silencing Using the Chloride Channel Anoctamin 1 (TMEM16A). Front Neurosci 12:560
Munshi, Rahul; Qadri, Shahnaz M; Zhang, Qian et al. (2017) Magnetothermal genetic deep brain stimulation of motor behaviors in awake, freely moving mice. Elife 6:
Christiansen, Michael G; Howe, Christina M; Bono, David C et al. (2017) Practical methods for generating alternating magnetic fields for biomedical research. Rev Sci Instrum 88:084301
Dougherty, Darin D; Widge, Alik S (2017) Neurotherapeutic Interventions for Psychiatric Illness. Harv Rev Psychiatry 25:253-255