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The results could be extended from in vitro study towards in vivo recordings of organs and tissues and to implantable devices to monitor health (Image: IBEC).

A research team develop biotransistors able to hear small beats of live

Researchers at the Institute for Bioengineering of Catalonia (IBEC) in the Barcelona Science Park, in collaboration with the Institute of Materials Science of Barcelona (ICMAB-CSIC), develop a flexible, cheap and biocompatible transistor platform able to record an electrocardiogram of cells and micro-tissues during long periods of time.The platform, based on organic transistor technology (EGOFET), can also measure the effect of drugs on beating cells, as cardiomyocytes, opening the door to several applications such as implantable devices for health.


One of the tests that almost every patient must face before a surgery or other health intervention is an electrocardiogram. To perform this screening, medical doctors traditionally use a set of electrodes, which are able to record the electrical activity of the heart. The question is: what happens when the signal is much smaller, for instance, when you want to hear the beat of small clusters of cells or groups of cells within tissues?

Scientists have been addressing this issue for years, since solving this drawback may pave the way in drug development and screening. Of equal importance, the development of these techniques together with the use of pluripotent stem cell derivatives opens the door not only to immediate applications in the cardiac field, but in other important areas of research, as the neural field.

Now, experts at the Institute for Bioengineering of Catalonia (IBEC), in collaboration with the Institute of Materials Science of Barcelona (ICMAB-CSIC), have achieved a new milestone. By developing a bio-platform that integrates in its core an organic electronic device called Electrolyte Gated Organic Field Effect Transistor (EGOFETs), researchers have been able to monitor the electrical signal of cells and micro-tissues during long periods of time. The work is the result of a fruitful multidisciplinary collaboration between an organic electronic devices team (led by Dr. Marta Mas-Torrent from ICMAB), a bioengineering team (led by UB Professor Gabriel Gomila at IBEC) and a stem-cell tissue engineering team (led by ICREA Research Professor Núria Montserrat at IBEC), with the collaboration on instrumentation development from Dr. Tobias Cramer,  from the University of Bologna in Italy.

“It was amazing to see how the electrophysiological platform developed with seeded cardiac cells was functional for several weeks without degrading its performance. This capability opens endless applications in biology and biomedicine”, say Dr. Adrica Kyndiah, first author of the paper and researcher at IBEC.

Reference article: Kyndiah A, Leonardi F, Tarantino C, Cramer T, Millan-Solsona R, Garreta E, Montserrat N, Mas-Torrent M, Gomila G. “Bioelectronic Recordings of Cardiomyocytes with Accumulation Mode Electrolyte Gated Organic Field Effect Transistors“. Biosens Bioelectron. 2019 Nov 6:111844. doi: 10.1016/j.bios.2019.111844  

►For further information: IBEC website [+]