Stem cells and electronics combined into a new type of neural implant

Researchers at the University of Cambridge have developed a new type of neural implant that combines

contains stem cells and electronics. It will help amputees and paraplegic patients. The revolutionary biohybrid device can integrate with body tissues.

The key components of the device areinduced pluripotent stem cells (iPS). These are adult human cells (usually skin or blood) that are reprogrammed in the laboratory to resemble embryonic stem cells. They then develop into any other type of cell. The researchers used iPS to create myocytes, the building blocks of skeletal muscle and were used in a living body for the first time.

The cells were arranged in a gridon microelectrode arrays; so thin that they are attached to the end of the nerve. This is how a layer of myocytes appeared, which was located between the electrodes of the device and living tissue. The researchers then implanted the biohybrid device into rats for testing. They attached the cell-covered side of the device to severed ulnar and median nerves in the animals' front legs. These nerves were chosen because they are similar to nerve injuries in the human upper extremities and are associated with loss of fine motor and sensory functions.

Compared to the control group,the device was integrated into the rat's body and prevented the formation of scar tissue. In addition, iPSC-derived cells survived for four weeks after implantation. This is the first time cells have survived a long-term experiment of this kind.