Interdisciplinary Initiatives Program Round 11 - 2022

Project Investigators:

Guosong Hong, Materials Science & Engineering
Andrew Mannix, Materials Science & Engineering
Julia Kaltschmidt, Neurosurgery


Despite growing academic and clinical interest in the enteric nervous system (ENS), a key resource currently lacking is a defined molecular understanding of the roles of neurotransmitters and neuropeptides in the ENS with high spatiotemporal resolution. This challenge is partly due to the mechanical and size mismatch between existing tools (e.g., carbon fibers and NeuroString, respectively) and the actively moving gastrointestinal (GI) tract. Here, we propose to address this challenge by developing an atomically-thin and intrinsically-flexible MoS2 nanosensor in a stretchable electronic platform. The MoS2 nanosensor can be injected into the myenteric plexus (MP) layer of the GI tract wall, affording an intimate interface of sensing devices with enteric neurons to record local concentrations of nitric oxide (NO), an important neurotransmitter in the gut underlying gut motility and enteric neuropathies. By leveraging the extremely small footprint and intrinsic flexibility of the MoS2 nanosensor, we aim to achieve real-time monitoring of NO release in a colonic motility assay with high spatiotemporal resolution, thus revealing the role of NO in modulating gut motility. This proposed study leverages the ultraflexible and stretchable electronic platform developed by the Hong lab, the atomically thin 2D semiconductor MoS2 sensors synthesized by the Mannix lab, and the expertise in gut neurobiology, the colonic motility assay, and enteric optogenetics by the Kaltschmidt lab. By combining state-of-the-art electronic nanomaterials with ENS biology, our proposed approach will enable chronic in vivo real-time sensing of a wide panel of neurotransmitters and other molecules in the human gut to provide diagnostic and monitoring of enteric neuropathies in clinical settings.