News Brief by Jessica Newfield
A team of researchers at McGill University developed a technique to create new connections between artificial neurons. Using atomic force microscopy, the researchers were able to attach a minute polystyrene ball to a neuron acting as a transmitter, and, by stretching this transmitter neuron, could connect it to communicate with another neuron acting as a receiver. This discovery has exciting future implications for people with central nervous system damage as it poses the possibility of creating neuronal connections that have been severed or destroyed. Although these connections were created in a lab environment, researchers are hopeful that this discovery will be able to translate into practical treatments that involve creating new neuronal connections.
Reference: M. H. Magdesian, G. M. Lopez-Ayon, M. Mori, D. Boudreau, A. Goulet-Hanssens, R. Sanz, Y. Miyahara, C. J. Barrett, A. E. Fournier, Y. De Koninck, P. Grutter. Rapid Mechanically Controlled Rewiring of Neuronal Circuits. Journal of Neuroscience, 2016; 36 (3): 979 DOI: 10.1523/JNEUROSCI.1667-15.2016