New micro-robots can interact with nerve cells, repair and regenerate them. In the future, this will lead to new therapy for patients with nervous system injuries.
Tiny robots can act as connectors for nerve cells, bridging the gaps between two different groups of cells. These microscopic patches can lead to the formation of more complex networks, which can lead to their regeneration. The researchers reported this in the publication of Science Advances.
Engineers Eun Hae Kim and Hong Soo Choi of the Daegu Gyeongbuk Institute of Science and Technology in South Korea, and their colleagues have unveiled 300 micrometer long rectangular robots for the first time. Thin horizontal devices can exchange messages with other cells and integrate into existing structures.
Each such robot is equipped with 100 nerve cells, and the microrobot was programmed to integrate into islets of nerve cells and fill these gaps. The rotating magnetic fields sent the microrobot towards their target. As the microrobot approached, the researchers used a more stable magnetic field to align the device between the two clusters of cells.
Making these neural patches could help researchers better design replicas of complex networks of nerve cells in the brain. Systems like these could also lead to new ways of studying the growth of nerve cells, and experiments could lead to new therapies for people with nervous system damage.