Scientists build artificial neurons able to communicate with organic neurons
Scientists at Karolinska Institutet in Sweden have built a fully functional neuron by using organic bioelectronics. This artificial neuron contain no "living" parts, but is capable of mimicking the function of a human nerve cell and communicate in the same way as our own neurons do.
Neurons communicate with chemical signals called neurotransmitters. Incoming chemical signals are converted to electrical signals that travel along the neuron and eventually converted back to chemical signals and sent to other neurons. To date, the main medical technique used for neuronal stimulation is based on electrical stimulation. However, the new bioelectronic device developed by the Karolinska researchers is capable of receiving chemical signals, which it can then relay to organic neurons.
says lead investigator Agneta Richter-Dahlfors, professor of cellular microbiology. "The sensing component of the artificial neuron senses a change in chemical signals in one dish, and translates this into an electrical signal. This electrical signal is next translated into the release of the neurotransmitter acetylcholine in a second dish, whose effect on living human cells can be monitored."
Richter-Dahlfors and her team, in collaboration with collegues at Linköping University, have published the results of their research in an article titled "An organic electronic biomimetic neuron enables auto-regulated neuromodulation" on Biosensors and Bioelectronics.