Magnetogenetics: A new technique to control the inner workings of human cells and build neural circuits

By John Hewitt on March 6, 2013 at 9:46 am

In the brain, the complex circuits behind our cognition largely construct themselves. In a dish or on a chip however, the normal meaningful cues are missing, and any attempts to grow predefined circuits from neurons have largely met with failure. A new technique, dubbed magnetogenetics, has now provided a way to create these neural circuits by combining magnetic manipulation with the cell’s own machinery for stabilizing new growth and extensions.

The technique works by making use of the cell’s ability to target a protein, known as Rac-GTPase, which promotes the formation and stabilization of new branches. The researchers used 500nm (0.0005mm) magnetic beads that have been modified so they can hook up to these protein machines soon after they come off the presses. They can then be magnetically acquired, and then moved to the desired locations using a precisely controlled force. In order to see what they are doing, they also attached fluorescent beacons to the beads.

Read more: Magnetogenetics: A new technique to control the inner workings of human cells and build neural circuits | ExtremeTech.

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