External Communication of Neural Networks in Vivo – ScienceDaily


Research teams led by Professor Hongsoo Choi and Professor Yongseok Oh of DGIST have joined forces with a research team led by Dr Jongcheol Rah of the Korea Institute for Brain Research to develop a technology to deliver a microrobot to a target point of the hippocampus in a laboratory setting, using neural networks and measuring neural signals. The research results are expected to contribute to neural network research and the validation and analysis of cell therapy products.

The research team led by Professor Hongsu Choi of DGIST (Chairman Kuk Yang) in the Department of Robotics and Mechatronics Engineering developed a small robot capable of forming neural networks and segmenting hippocampal tissue in an in vitro and ex vivo environment.[1] state. Through joint research with the team led by Dr. The research results are expected to be applied in various fields, including neural networks, cell therapy products, and regenerative medicine.

Cell therapy products and cell delivery technology have been developed to regenerate neurons damaged by disease; In recent years, various techniques have been used that include micro-robots that are capable of performing delicate and minimally invasive surgeries.[2] Cellular connectivity is gaining recognition. Previous studies on cell connectivity and neural network communication using only microrobots have demonstrated the structural and functional connections of cells at the cell level.

The research team led by Professor Choi used small robots with which neural network communication can be applied in practice. This technology has used micro-robots to enable analysis of functionally connected neural networks in an ex vivo environment and cell connectivity; Laboratory rat brain tissue was used for the experiment.

The research team first attached super magnets[3] Iron oxide nanoparticles to primary neurons of the hippocampus of a laboratory mouse to fabricate Mag-Neurobot in a 3D spherical shape. Magnetic nanoparticles were attached to the outside of the robot so that the robot could move to a desired location by interacting with external magnetic fields. Safety was also verified by biocompatibility testing, as the robot’s magnetism did not affect neuronal development.

The research team placed the microbot in a tissue section of the mouse hippocampus by controlling the magnetic field. by immunofluorescence staining[4]the team observed that cells in the microbot and cells in a tissue section of the hippocampus were structurally connected through neurons.

Furthermore, a microelectrode array (MEA) was used to stimulate neurons in the microbot to determine whether the neurons presented by the microbot displayed typical electrophysiological properties. It has been verified that electrical signals normally propagate through neurons within the hippocampal tissue section. Accordingly, the research team confirmed that the neurons transmitted by the microbot can functionally form cells and neural networks within the hippocampal tissue section of a laboratory mouse. In addition, the team showed that a microbot can perform the roles of connecting neurons and forming artificial neural networks.

“We have demonstrated that the microrobot and neural tissues of the mouse brain can be functionally interconnected through electrophysiological analysis,” said Dr. Choi of DGIST. “It is expected that the technology developed in this study will be used to validate precisely targeted therapy in the field of neurological disorders and therapy.” with cells.”

This study was supported by NSCN, NRF, and the Ministry of Science and ICT, and the results of the research are published online in Advanced materials (JSR IF 32.086, 2.1% highest in the field), one of the most highly rated journals in the materials field, on February 15 (Wednesday).


[1] Ex vivo: The removal of organs or tissues outside the body for treatment purposes and then their return to their original position

[2] Minimally invasive: Minimizing the incision area to reduce the physical burden on the patient

[3] Supermagnetism: The spins align in the same direction, but the spins generally do not align even when a magnetic field is applied.

[4] Immunofluorescence staining: A visualization technique used to determine the location within a cell of specific proteins using an antibody to a specific molecule, often a protein, in cells or tissues.


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