Scientists in Sweden have engineered and built the world’s first fully functioning artificial brain cell, better known as a neuron.
Neurons are difficult to engineer because they communicate with one another through a complex array of chemical signals commonly called neurotransmitters.
In order to pull off this feat, the scientists pulled together an organic bioelectronic device that completely mimic the functions of the human nerve cell.
Although the artificial neuron contains no living parts, it is still able to communicate with live human cells through chemical signals.
Prior to this breakthrough, scientists would stimulate neural cells through electrical stimulation. The artificial brain cell from Sweden marks the first device that uses chemical signaling to transmit and receive information to and from live human cells.
This technology has many applications, not least of which will be the ability to improve treatments for neurological disorders, which currently rely on traditional electrical stimulation.
These sort of disorders result when neural pathways break down. Information that’s supposed to flow from one part of the body to another can’t if there’s a breakdown in the neural system.
This new technique will make it possible to essentially bypass the damaged nerve cells by delivering chemical signals received from different parts of the body. That way, proper neural function can resume.
Next on the list is to shrink the device so doctors or surgeons can implant it in the human body. Part of this process will be to add a wireless feature to the biosensor, or artificial cell. That will allow for an alternate communication path to trigger neurotransmitters at distant ends of the body.
Let me put it this way: this technology could one day put an end to paralysis as we know it today.
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Editor, BioTech Intel Trader