Injuries to the central nervous system — the brain and spinal cord — are particularly devastating because the body doesn’t regenerate neurons to repair connections between vital circuits and restore function. In other words, the damage is permanent or even fatal.
/…/ Working with rat neurons grown in a petri dish in the laboratory, the team artificially connected two neurons using an atomic force microscope and tiny, polystyrene spheres. Though the work is an early proof-of-concept, it could lay the foundation for novel surgeries and therapies for people with brain and spinal damage.
/…/ Researchers used a specialized microprobe to grab on to an axon, the part of a neuron that connects it to others in the brain, and stretch it across the dish to connect it to another neuron. Their microprobe takes advantage of minuscule forces between objects at the atomic level to grasp the polystyrene spheres, which in turn hold the axon.
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