Posted on Jul 04, 2019, 7 p.m.
Science fiction based machine enhanced humans has moved a step closer to being science reality thanks to new research from Leber Group at Harvard University in collaboration with scientists from the University of Surrey and Yonsei University, published in Nature Nanotechnology.
Scalable nanoprobe arrays were developed that are small enough to record the inner workings of human cardiac cells and primary neurons. Studies involving developing tools for intracellular electrophysiology that push the limits while reducing invasiveness may help to provide better understandings of electrogenic cells, their networks in tissues, and provide new directions for human machine interfaces.
An array of ultra small U shaped nanowire field effect transistor probes that has the capacity for multichannel intracellular recordings was created which was used to record inner activity of primary neurons and other electrogenic cells, which performed with great clarity.
According to Dr. Yunlong Zhao, "If our medical professionals are to continue to understand our physical condition better and help us live longer, it is important that we continue to push the boundaries of modern science in order to give them the best possible tools to do their jobs. For this to be possible, an intersection between humans and machines is inevitable.”
"Our ultra-small, flexible, nanowire probes could be a very powerful tool as they can measure intracellular signals with amplitudes comparable with those measured with patch clamp techniques; with the advantage of the device being scalable, it causes less discomfort and no fatal damage to the cell (cytosol dilation). Through this work, we found clear evidence for how both size and curvature affect device internalisation and intracellular recording signal."
Professor Charles Lieber adds, "This work represents a major step towards tackling the general problem of integrating 'synthesised' nanoscale building blocks into chip and wafer scale arrays, and thereby allowing us to address the long-standing challenge of scalable intracellular recording.The beauty of science to many, ourselves included, is having such challenges to drive hypotheses and future work. In the longer term, we see these probe developments adding to our capabilities that ultimately drive advanced high-resolution brain-machine interfaces and perhaps eventually bringing cyborgs to reality”
"This incredibly exciting and ambitious piece of work illustrates the value of academic collaboration. Along with the possibility of upgrading the tools we use to monitor cells, this work has laid the foundations for machine and human interfaces that could improve lives across the world." says Professor Ravi Silva.
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This article is not intended to provide medical diagnosis, advice, treatment, or endorsement.