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Technology Overview

OHSU # 3127 — A microcontroller for easier whole-cell patch clamping on dendrites and axons


The current technology is a microcontroller that allows for the application of controlled negative pressure and simultaneous electrical impulses to make it easier to obtain whole-cell patch clamp recordings on small cellular structures.

Technology Overview

Whole-cell patch clamping is a technique commonly employed to study the electrical properties of neurons and other biological cells. However, the methodology requires extensive training and can be difficult for new students and technicians to learn.  This is especially true for clamping onto small structures such as dendrites and axons, which may be difficult to perform even for experienced electrophysiologists.

The current device is a novel microcontroller that allows for controlled and simultaneous use of negative pressure and electrical pulses, delivered from a patch-clamp amplifier, to break a cellular membrane. The combination of the negative pressure and the electrical pulse can be more reliable for breaking the cellular membrane than either stimulus alone, especially for small structures like dendrites and axons. The current device could reduce the necessary training and experience needed to perform whole-cell patch clamp recordings for all users and substantially facilitate the ease of making recordings from small neuronal structures.

Features of the device include:

  • Programmable application of the timing and magnitude of negative pressure and electrical impulses.
  • Consistent repetition of the above presets until the membrane perforates.
  • A feedback mechanism to end pressure and electrical pulses when the seal has been achieved.

Licensing Opportunity

This technology is available for licensing.