Although Neurons can repair themselves to a certain extent, the process takes several years and, therefore, limits their practicality in a major operation. The ability to join nerves has wide ranging applications whether in research for the simulation of the nervous system or reattaching cut body parts. So, University of Alberta’s researchers have come up with a Laser process that can attach Neurons within 15 milliseconds. This is yet another huge milestone in biomedical engineering.
A team led by Doctoral student Nir Katchinskiy performed the experiment of attaching two neurons with each other. They were first suspended in a solution where both could come in contact with each other but not start sticking with each other. A series of short wavelength 1 x10-15 m Lasers were applied at the point where the two nerve cells met. The two cells got permanently stuck to each other with a common membrane molding them together in shape like they had always been this way. To test the joining’s strength, the team then performed a series of experiments to prove that the connected neurons remained viable. They remained intact during all of them. It is pertinent to mention that there was some external damage to the protective layer surrounding the two conjoined cells, but the inside surface of that layer remained intact and whole.
So, Laser welding has gone to a whole other level. It is already being used in nanotechnology and other biomedical departments. Although we won’t be reconnecting severed spinal cords anytime soon, it is a step towards that direction. The National Scientific Reports Journal published a piece on this very recently. Do check it out.