The feeling of being remotely controlled by Micro magnets

A new potential technique for treating neurological disorders. Scientists at UCL have developed a new approach that uses microscopic magnetic particles to activate brain cells remotely; Astrocytes represent the most numerous microglial cell population in the cortical brain: the name “Astrocyte” derives from the stellate morphology of the cells in vivo.

Astrocytes form large networks of interconnected cells in the central nervous system, creating large networks of corresponding cells in the central nervous system. Astrocytes have caught scientists’ attention because of their crucial roles in brain mechanisms.

Their existence and proximity to neurons were depicted by pioneering neuroscientist Santiago Ramón y Cajal more than a century ago.

However, our understanding of astrocytes and their contributions to cognition is still in its infancy. This is mainly because astrocytes are electrically silent cells that lack mechanisms to generate and propagate action potentials.

Senior author, Professor Mark Lythgoe (UCL Centre for Advanced Biomedical Imaging) announces that: “Because astrocytes are sensitive to touch, decorating them with magnetic particles means you can give the cells a tiny prod from outside the body using a magnet, and as such, control their function. This ability to remotely control astrocytes provides a new tool for understanding their function and may have the potential to treat brain disorders.”

The advantage of this discovery is being invasive or not necessary to add devices or gene transformation in the brain compared to other techniques that need to add gens to brain cells. Apart from this, they can be traced by a Mri scan to localize very precise and particular parts of the brain.

“The ability to control brain astrocytes using a magnetic field gives the researchers a new tool to study the function of these cells in health and disease that may be important for future development of novel and effective treatments for some common neurological disorders, such as epilepsy and stroke.”

Author: Azadeh Mozhdeh Farahbakhsh

Source: UCL

Image: The images are credited to Yichao Yu and Mark Lythgoe at UCL and Wikipedia

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