Successful testing of first artificial neurons capable of curing chronic disease, according to new research
A group of researchers at the University of Bath in England have just published the results of an interesting study where they claim to have created the first artificial neurons with the ability to behave exactly like real living neurons. In other words, we would be facing one of the most important advances in recent years.
The development of artificial neurons is not something new, we have spent several years hearing about projects that seek to replicate the behavior of the human brain. What is striking about this new development is that researchers are focusing on solving specific problems instead of imitating all the extensive capabilities of a neuron, therefore, they say, having achieved outstanding results for the first time.
A chip that mimics the electrical properties of biological neurons
According to the research, the development of artificial neurons has been a challenge, since it is necessary to create, first of all, complex mathematical models that can control the complicated nonlinear electrical activity that occurs in biological neurons.
Alain Nogaret, researcher at the University of Bath and responsible for the study, explained:
"Our approach combines several advances. We can estimate with great precision the exact parameters that control the behavior of any neuron with great certainty. We have created physical models of the hardware and demonstrated its ability to successfully mimic the behavior of living neurons. Our third great breakthrough is the versatility of our model, which allows the inclusion of different types and functions of a range of complex mammalian neurons. "
The study claims to have successfully tested two types of neurons: respiratory and hippocampal. The researchers say they managed to accurately reproduce a wide range of activity compared to their biological counterparts.
Julian Paton, co-author of the research, stated:
"Replicating the response of respiratory neurons in bioelectronics that can be miniaturized and implanted is very exciting, and opens up enormous opportunities for smarter medical devices that lead to personalized medicine approaches to treating a variety of diseases and disabilities."
As they explain, these artificial neurons are contained in a silicon microchip, which would allow their use in various hypothetical scenarios. For example, there is talk of the possibility of creating new types of pacemakers, which would be able to communicate with a specific base of neurons in the brain, responsible for cardiac performance.
They also point out that thanks to this chip, they would be in a position to replace damaged neural connections by neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer's. The study even raises the possibility that this technology could be used to create new neural pathways that help bring brain-computer interfaces (BCIs) to life, somewhat similar to what Elon Musk has proposed with Neuralink.
However, the study highlights that at the moment they seek to focus on offering direct health results, such as finding ways to replace diseased or damaged neural networks in humans.
"Until now, neurons have been like black boxes, but we have managed to open the black box and look inside. Our work is changing paradigm because it provides a robust method to reproduce the electrical properties of real neurons in detail."
Despite all the supposed benefits of this new development, numerous tests will have to be done first before starting experiments on humans. That is, we will still have to wait several years before we can see this type of technology applied in real scenarios on a day-to-day basis. But it is undoubtedly an important advance that opens new doors for future research.