Ion channel in neurons

Robert Clatt

  • new way magnetic stimulation Allow Drosophila neurons Specifically to activate
  • Insects became too Nanoparticles in Ion channels of the nervous system Implanted, which can be heated by magnets
  • In the future, technology should be Fundamentals of applications in medicine shape and around Restores the blind to their sense of sight

Neurons of a genetically modified fly can be remotely controlled by implanted nanoparticles. In the long term, magnetic stimulation will be used in medicine, for example to enable blind people to see.


Houston (USA). A team of neuroscientists from Brown University and Baylor College of Medicine led by Jacob Robinson Rice University you have wireless technology put with them nervous cells phone fruit flies It can be activated in a targeted manner in almost real time. The knowledge gained can be used as a basis for various applications in the future medicine serve.


“Science is looking for research in brain Or treating neurological disorders with incredibly delicate and minimally invasive instruments. Remote control of selected neural circuits with magnetic fields is something of the holy grail of neurotechnology. Our work is an important step in this direction because it increases the speed of the magnetic remote control, bringing it closer to the normal brain speed,” Robinson explains.


Activation of neurons by ion channel

According to Robinson, the new technology can activate neurons about 50 times faster than previously used magnetic stimulation techniques. “We made progress because the lead author, Charles Sebesta, had the idea of ​​using a new ion channel sensitive to the rate of temperature change. By bringing together experts in genetic engineering, nanotechnology, and electrical engineering, we were able to put all the pieces together and prove that the idea works,” said Robinson. : “This has really been a team effort by the world-class scientists we’ve been fortunate to work with.”

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Nanoparticles are injected into fruit flies

It was published in the specialized magazine nature materials The researchers explained that they have a special ion channel in Nervous system of fruit flies per Genetic Engineering She expressed that it can be activated by heat. In order to be able to “remotely control” the channel, the researchers implanted nanoparticles into the flies, which can be heated into the insect’s body using a magnetic field.


Then they placed the genetically modified animals in a dish on which a camera and an electromagnet were placed. They were able to document the flies’ movements and reactions to the magnetic field in detail.

Develop mental communication techniques

“The long-term goal of this work is to develop methods that can be used to activate specific areas of the brain in humans for therapeutic purposes without the need for surgical intervention,” Robinson explains. In the future, this technology could, for example, restore sight to blind people by specifically stimulating the corresponding areas of the brain.

“To match the brain’s natural resolution, we probably need to achieve a response in the range of a few hundredths of a second. We still have a long way to go,” Robinson said.

Nature Materials, doi: 10.1038/s41563-022-01281-7

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