Researchers at Israel’s Bar-Ilan University created nano-magnets that are capable of restoring damaged nerve cells, the scientists said on Tuesday.
Prof. Orit Sheri and doctoral student Reut Plen from Bar-Ilan’s Kofkin Faculty of Engineering developed a new technique that repairs neurons that were damaged by degenerative diseases or injuries. Using nanotechnology and magnetic manipulations, they came up with one of the most innovative approaches to creating neural networks.
“This method paves the way for the creation of 3D cell architecture on a customized scale for use in bioengineering, therapeutic and research applications, both inside and outside the body,” said Plen.
The method allows the cells to be developed into mature neurons within a few days. Through the magnetic manipulations, the scientists created three-dimensional “mini-brains,” which they describe as “functional and multi-layered neural networks that mimic elements found in the brain of mammals.”
“Since the 3D neural networks we created simulate innate properties of human brain tissues, they can be used as experimental ‘mini-brains’ and serve as a model for the study of medicinal drugs, for investigating communication between tissues, and as a way to build artificial networks for interfaces between engineering and biological components,” Plen explained.
“The advantage of using this method is that magnetic fields can affect cells located deep inside the body in a non-invasive manner,” the researcher added.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has already approved the use of magnetic nanoparticles for diagnostic and imaging purposes and in cases of severe injury. The Israeli scientists believe that their discovery creates an opportunity to advance the technology for future clinical use.