Genetically modified fly controlled remotely with nanoparticles

Genetically modified fly controlled remotely with nanoparticles

ion channels in nerve cells

Robert Clato

  • a new way magnetic stimulation allows for neurons of a fruit fly specifically to activate
  • insects have become nanoparticles In ion channels of the nervous system implanted, which can be heated by a magnet
  • In the future, technology should Basis for applications in medicine form and about give the blind people their sight back

Genetically modified fly neurons can be controlled remotely via implanted nanoparticles. In the long term, magnetic stimulation is to be used in medicine, for example to enable blind people to see.


Houston (USA). A team of neuroscientists from Brown University and Baylor College of Medicine led by Jacob Robinson Rice University is a wireless technology grow with them neurons From fruit flies Can be activated in a targeted manner in almost real time. The knowledge gained can be used as a basis for various applications in the future. medicine to serve.


“Science is looking for research Brain Or the treatment of neurological disorders thanks to both incredibly accurate and minimally invasive devices. Remote control of selected neural circuits with magnetic fields is a holy grail for neurotechnology. Our work is an important step in this direction because it increases the speed of the magnetic remote control, bringing it closer to the natural movement of the brain,” explains Robinson.


neurons activated by ion channels

According to Robinson, the new technology can activate neurons about 50 times faster than previously used magnetic stimulation technologies. “We made progress because lead author Charles Sebesta had the idea of ​​using a new ion channel that is sensitive to the rate of temperature change. By bringing together experts in genetic engineering, nanotechnology and electrical engineering, we pieced all the pieces together. We were able to put in and prove that this idea works. It was truly a team effort of world-class scientists, whom we were fortunate to work with,” Robinson said.

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Nanoparticle injection into fruit flies

In their publication in the specialist journal nature material Researchers reveal they have a special ion channel nervous system copy of fruit flies reproductive engineering Expressed that can be activated by heat. To be able to “remotely control” the channel, the researchers implanted nanoparticles in the flies, which can be heated using a magnetic field, into the insect’s body.


They then placed the genetically modified animals in a dish, on top of which were placed a camera and an electromagnet. They were able to document in detail the flies’ movements and magnetic field responses.

development of brain communication technologies

“The long-term goal of this work is to develop methods that can be used to activate certain brain regions in humans for therapeutic purposes without the need for surgical intervention,” explains Robinson. In the future, this technology could, for example, restore vision to blind people by specifically stimulating relevant areas of the brain.

“To match the brain’s natural accuracy, we probably need to get a response in the range of a few hundredths of a second. So we still have a long way to go,” Robinson said.

Nature Materials, DOI: 10.1038/s41563-022-01281-7

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