What's the Latest Development?

By attaching neurons to a fibrous scaffold, European scientists have taken the first step toward creating a 3D artificial brain, which scientists believe will aid our understanding of neurological diseases. After threading neurons through the nanocellulose scaffold, found naturally in fibrous materials like woodpulp, a neural network emerged naturally, generating synapses between the ends of the neurons. "The researchers could then use electrical impulses and chemical signal substances to generate nerve impulses that spread through the network in much the same way as they do in the brain."

What's the Big Idea?

At some point, the scientists will kill the very synaptic connections they have worked to create, wishing to study one of the earliest signs of Alzheimer's disease. "They also want to study how cells react to the patients' spinal fluid. In the future, this method may be useful for testing various pharmaceutical candidates that could slow down the destruction of synapses." The number of biomedical applications that could be developed from nanocellulose scaffolding is astounding, from prosthetic cartilage to artificial blood vessels.

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