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 Researchers pave the way for ionotronic nanodevices
23.02.2017 | Aalto University

nachricht Microhotplates for a smart gas sensor
22.02.2017 | Toyohashi University of Technology

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: Breakthrough with a chain of gold atoms

In the field of nanoscience, an international team of physicists with participants from Konstanz has achieved a breakthrough in understanding heat transport

In the field of nanoscience, an international team of physicists with participants from Konstanz has achieved a breakthrough in understanding heat transport

Im Focus: DNA repair: a new letter in the cell alphabet

Results reveal how discoveries may be hidden in scientific “blind spots”

Cells need to repair damaged DNA in our genes to prevent the development of cancer and other diseases. Our cells therefore activate and send “repair-proteins”...

Im Focus: Dresdner scientists print tomorrow’s world

The Fraunhofer IWS Dresden and Technische Universität Dresden inaugurated their jointly operated Center for Additive Manufacturing Dresden (AMCD) with a festive ceremony on February 7, 2017. Scientists from various disciplines perform research on materials, additive manufacturing processes and innovative technologies, which build up components in a layer by layer process. This technology opens up new horizons for component design and combinations of functions. For example during fabrication, electrical conductors and sensors are already able to be additively manufactured into components. They provide information about stress conditions of a product during operation.

The 3D-printing technology, or additive manufacturing as it is often called, has long made the step out of scientific research laboratories into industrial...

Im Focus: Mimicking nature's cellular architectures via 3-D printing

Research offers new level of control over the structure of 3-D printed materials

Nature does amazing things with limited design materials. Grass, for example, can support its own weight, resist strong wind loads, and recover after being...

Im Focus: Three Magnetic States for Each Hole

Nanometer-scale magnetic perforated grids could create new possibilities for computing. Together with international colleagues, scientists from the Helmholtz Zentrum Dresden-Rossendorf (HZDR) have shown how a cobalt grid can be reliably programmed at room temperature. In addition they discovered that for every hole ("antidot") three magnetic states can be configured. The results have been published in the journal "Scientific Reports".

Physicist Dr. Rantej Bali from the HZDR, together with scientists from Singapore and Australia, designed a special grid structure in a thin layer of cobalt in...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Booth and panel discussion – The Lindau Nobel Laureate Meetings at the AAAS 2017 Annual Meeting

13.02.2017 | Event News

Complex Loading versus Hidden Reserves

10.02.2017 | Event News

International Conference on Crystal Growth in Freiburg

09.02.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Organ-on-a-chip mimics heart's biomechanical properties

23.02.2017 | Health and Medicine

Light-driven reaction converts carbon dioxide into fuel

23.02.2017 | Life Sciences

Oil and gas wastewater spills alter microbes in West Virginia waters

23.02.2017 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>