Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Engineering researchers use laser to 'weld' neurons

10.02.2016

Ph.D. student is first ever to connect neurons, in ground-breaking research

A research team based in the University of Alberta Faculty of Engineering has developed a method of connecting neurons, using ultrashort laser pulses--a breakthrough technique that opens the door to new medical research and treatment opportunities.


UAlberta electrical engineering Ph.D. student Nir Katchinskiy led a research project that was able to "weld" neurons together using a femtosecond laser.

Credit: UAlberta Engineering

The team is the first ever to find a way to bond neurons and in doing so, has given researchers a powerful new tool. Neurons are cells in the nervous system that are responsible for transferring information between the brain and the rest of the body.

"The immediate application is for researchers. They finally have a new tool to do what they have not been able to do before," said Nir Katchinskiy, a second-year PhD student in Electrical Engineering who led the study. "We're engineers. We come up with tools that provide potential."

The team's findings are published in the flagship scientific journal Nature Scientific Reports.

Katchinskiy had a real-life application in mind when he started the project.

"I was really interested in the nervous system--if you have a severed nerve, you can't repair it," he said. "My thought was, what if we could 'weld' it back up right after it's injured?"

To conduct the study, two neurons, put in a special solution that prevents them from sticking together, were brought into contact with each other. Femtosecond laser pulses--each ultrashort pulse occurring every 10-15 seconds--were delivered to the meeting point of the two cells. Although the outside layer of the cells was partially compromised, the inside of that protective layer remained intact. As a result, the two cells established solid bonds forming a common membrane at the targeted area.

Throughout multiple experiments, the cells remained viable and the connection strong. It took the neurons 15 milliseconds to stick to each other--the process would have taken hours to occur naturally.

The biggest advantage of the discovery is that it gives researchers complete control on the cell connection process. "You can really plan any experiment. The idea is to show that you can use it (femtosecond laser) as a research tool to control what you are attaching," said Katchinskiy.

"You may not be able to go in and treat the human spine with this, but it brings you closer," said electrical engineering professor Abdul Elezzabi, who is a co-author of the paper and Katchinskiy's research supervisor. "But it brings you closer to how these things work."

So far, the team has applied this method to three types of cells, but the potential of the technique seems limitless. For this project, Katchinskiy and Elezzabi, who are in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, teamed up with professor Roseline Godbout from the U of A's Department of Oncology and Cross Cancer Institute and Dr. Helly Goez, a professor in the division of pediatric neurology in the Department of Pediatrics at the U of A Faculty of Medicine and Dentistry. Both are also co-authors of the paper.

"We have two of the biggest researchers on cancer working with us," said Elezzabi, a professor who is Katchinskiy's research supervisor. Elezzabi says femtosecond lasers can prove efficient in prostate, brain and ocular cancer research and treatment. Another possible application is in post cancer surgery treatment.

Media Contact

Richard Cairney
richard.cairney@ualberta.ca
780-492-4514

 @ualberta

http://www.ualberta.ca 

Richard Cairney | EurekAlert!

More articles from Power and Electrical Engineering:

nachricht A big nano boost for solar cells
18.01.2017 | Kyoto University and Osaka Gas effort doubles current efficiencies

nachricht Multiregional brain on a chip
16.01.2017 | Harvard John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences

All articles from Power and Electrical Engineering >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: How gut bacteria can make us ill

HZI researchers decipher infection mechanisms of Yersinia and immune responses of the host

Yersiniae cause severe intestinal infections. Studies using Yersinia pseudotuberculosis as a model organism aim to elucidate the infection mechanisms of these...

Im Focus: Interfacial Superconductivity: Magnetic and superconducting order revealed simultaneously

Researchers from the University of Hamburg in Germany, in collaboration with colleagues from the University of Aarhus in Denmark, have synthesized a new superconducting material by growing a few layers of an antiferromagnetic transition-metal chalcogenide on a bismuth-based topological insulator, both being non-superconducting materials.

While superconductivity and magnetism are generally believed to be mutually exclusive, surprisingly, in this new material, superconducting correlations...

Im Focus: Studying fundamental particles in materials

Laser-driving of semimetals allows creating novel quasiparticle states within condensed matter systems and switching between different states on ultrafast time scales

Studying properties of fundamental particles in condensed matter systems is a promising approach to quantum field theory. Quasiparticles offer the opportunity...

Im Focus: Designing Architecture with Solar Building Envelopes

Among the general public, solar thermal energy is currently associated with dark blue, rectangular collectors on building roofs. Technologies are needed for aesthetically high quality architecture which offer the architect more room for manoeuvre when it comes to low- and plus-energy buildings. With the “ArKol” project, researchers at Fraunhofer ISE together with partners are currently developing two façade collectors for solar thermal energy generation, which permit a high degree of design flexibility: a strip collector for opaque façade sections and a solar thermal blind for transparent sections. The current state of the two developments will be presented at the BAU 2017 trade fair.

As part of the “ArKol – development of architecturally highly integrated façade collectors with heat pipes” project, Fraunhofer ISE together with its partners...

Im Focus: How to inflate a hardened concrete shell with a weight of 80 t

At TU Wien, an alternative for resource intensive formwork for the construction of concrete domes was developed. It is now used in a test dome for the Austrian Federal Railways Infrastructure (ÖBB Infrastruktur).

Concrete shells are efficient structures, but not very resource efficient. The formwork for the construction of concrete domes alone requires a high amount of...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

12V, 48V, high-voltage – trends in E/E automotive architecture

10.01.2017 | Event News

2nd Conference on Non-Textual Information on 10 and 11 May 2017 in Hannover

09.01.2017 | Event News

Nothing will happen without batteries making it happen!

05.01.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

A big nano boost for solar cells

18.01.2017 | Power and Electrical Engineering

Glass's off-kilter harmonies

18.01.2017 | Materials Sciences

Toward a 'smart' patch that automatically delivers insulin when needed

18.01.2017 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>