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New Ideas on Developing Thought-Controlled Artificial Limbs

, previously pioneered in Smith's lab. Two adjacent plates of neurons are grown in a bioreactor. Axons sprout out to connect the neuron populations on each plate. The plates are then slowly pulled apart over a series of days, aided by a precise computer-controlled motor system, until they reached a desired length.

For the interface, one of the plates is an electrical microchip. Because Smith and his team have shown that stretch-grown axons can transmit active electrical signals, they propose that the nervous-tissue interface - through the microchip - could detect and record real-time signals conducted down the nerve and stimulate the sensory signals back through the axons.

In another study, Smith and colleagues showed that these stretch-grown axons could grow when transplanted into a rat model of spinal-cord damage. The team is now is the midst of studies measuring neuronal electrical activity across newly engineered nerve bridges and the restoration of motor activity in experimental animals. Source: Bio - Bio Technology
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