Artificial neurons masquerade as cells to trick brain cells into being accepted, avoid rejection, and promise to pave the way for new treatments to fight neurodegenerative diseases. It was made in Italy, in the center of Naples by the Italian Institute of Technology (Iit), in collaboration with the Federico II University of Naples and the Technical University of Aachen (Germany). The result was published in the journal Advanced Materials.
In the context of neurodegenerative diseases, ‘disguised’ neurons can be used to restore damaged synapses, and applications can also be used in amputations, where these devices can act as a bridge between preserved biological nerve endings and prosthetic circuits. The new generation of robots.
The result is an example of what’s called neuroengineering, a research field in disorders where the goal is to improve communication between neurons damaged by neurodegenerative diseases, increasingly due to the average aging population.
IIT researchers, coordinated by Francesca Santoro, have been able to disguise a synthetic device that gives it the appearance of a cell, reproduces the typical properties of a cell membrane on a slide in vitro and aims with two goals: to trick nervous system cells into making them recognize the device as part of their biological environment (and thus have a chance less rejection) and improve the passage of nerve impulses between the cell and the chips. Bruno notes that “the advantage of a biomimetic device is twofold.”
“Not only is biological tissues unaffected by the shock caused by the introduction of a foreign element, but – he adds – the fact that artificial neurons mimic membranes also gives electronic devices the ability to retain the memory of external stimuli, just like neurons.” The team’s next goal is to develop a device with a more complex cell membrane that closely resembles that of a neuron, which is also capable of releasing and receiving neurotransmitters.
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