At the University of Bath (UK), researchers have managed to create a miniature chip that fits on the tip of a finger. Its peculiarity is that it almost completely duplicates the work of human nerve cells. In the future, the creators plan to use such microcontrollers to restore the spinal cord and in the treatment of heart failure.
Bioelectronic devices and implants capable of providing the necessary passage of neural impulses in the body, replacing damaged nerve cells, were identified as a priority for the use of such cells.
"Until now, neurons for scientists remained a kind of "black box", which we have only now managed to open up to understand the mechanism of its work. Our work allows us to fully replicate the mechanism of action of real neurons in great detail, " - Alain Nogaret, a physicist at the University of Bath, co-author of the study.
In the tiny chip, there are several subsections of memory that mimic the neurons of the hippocampus, responsible for communication with the brain, and the neurons of respiration. The chips are equipped with a number of synthetic ion channels responsible for electrical impulses in real biological cells.
After conducting a series of studies on laboratory rats, the scientists were able to successfully simulate the reaction of artificial nerve cells to the reaction of biological ones. In the future, experts plan to build a full-fledged nervous system that can help in the recovery of patients with spinal injuries, Alzheimer's disease, and other disorders.