Courtesy of Miro Pastrnak, Tensor Biosciences

Infusing cultured brain tissue slices with the electrical activity of living brains sounds like the stuff of 1950s horror movies, or something taken straight from the pages of Mary Shelley's Frankenstein. But scientists at Irvine, Calif.-based Tensor Biosciences haven't created a monster. Their Brain-on-a-Chip™ technology promises to speed up the development of drugs for treating a variety of psychiatric disorders, including anxiety, depression, and schizophrenia.

The technology is based on an instrument developed by Panasonic in the mid-1990s for recording the electrical activity of neuronal networks in a slice of living brain tissue, says Miro Pastrnak, Tensor's director of business development. The tissue is placed on a glass chip containing a two-dimensional array of 64 microelectrodes that serve a dual function: The electrodes stimulate neural network activity in the brain tissue and record electrical activity after the tissue is infused with a drug....

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