Genetically modified neurons could enhance function of clinical implants

Genetically modified neurons could enhance function of clinical implants

High fat diet limits birth and development of new neurons in female mice The effectiveness of the team’s method was first demonstrated in the lab with animal cells, and then with human ones. Once they’d confirmed that the method was successful in the dish they moved on to testing it on living brain structures , such as those in living nematode worms. The team soaked the worms in the monomers that the enzymes would join together to construct the polymers. As a result, it was observed that the polymer has successfully coated the targeted nerve cells, altering the behavior of the cells in the way researchers had predicted. For example, in targeting the neurons that govern movement, the worms became less likely to make certain movements depending on the polymer, such as move forward to take sharp turns. Analyses of electrophysiology and behavior determined that genetically targeted assembly of functional polymers both preserved neuronal viability and remodeled the properties of the cell’s membrane. This has resulted in cell type-specific behaviors being modified in freely moving animals. Next steps At this moment, the researchers involved in the study aren’t sure what causes the modifications to generate these effects. In addition, they still need to develop a method to connect and interact with these modified neurons. However, the study acts as a proof of principle, which will be built on by future studies. Scientists will be exploring how this innovation could be used to investigate and gain insights into a number of diseases, such as multiple sclerosis, epilepsy, and autism, all of which have strong neuropathological origins. This would give researchers a chance to develop therapies to modify and improve these conditions. Right now, researchers are focusing on exploring how their cell-targeted technology could be adapted to create functional materials. With this work, the door has been opened to a wide range of new possibilities that will benefit from this interface of chemistry and biology. Journal reference: Liu, J. et al. (2020). Genetically targeted chemical assembly of functional materials in living cells, tissues, and animals. Science. DOI: 10.1126/science.aay4866



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