What would be the first thing you would do with an artificial brain? If you are a researcher at Harvard's Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering, the answer is simple: you meter it with meth.
Okay, so that can give a serious impression, but it accurately describes research recently published in the journal Nature Biotechnology. And it helped to reveal details about the brain that had never been known before.
"One of the more complex parts of the brain structure is the vascular system that supplies blood to the brain with nutrients and oxygen and removes waste products," said Kit Parker, Professor of Bioengineering and Applied Physics, at Digital Trends. "The blood vessels are selectively permeable as a means to protect the brain.The disadvantage is the difficulty with which you can get medicines in the brain through the same protective barrier.To simulate this, we built a model of the blood vessels (BBB) In the brains on two chips and built a piece of the brain on another chip, we connected the chips in series so that one BBB-chip represented nutrients to the brain chip and the second BBB-chip removed waste products from the brain chip. "
The meth came into play because they needed a way to test whether the BBB chip worked. To prove it, they had to show that it would mimic the real neurological effects caused by the drug. "Just like in the brains of people who chose to smoke meth, the BBB chips started to leak," continued Parker. "That's exactly what happens when you smoke meth – and why would not you do that?"
After the researchers had proven that their creation worked, they used it to examine the ways in which the cells communicate on the BBB chips and brain chips. This has helped to date unknown details about what Parker describes as a "dark web" of communication that scientists were not familiar with before. In the future, this may reveal new goals for medicinal therapies.
"The novelty with regard to organ chips is that they enable us to carry out an essentially synthetic synthetic biology approach at cell, tissue and organ levels," said Donald Ingber, director from the Wyss Institute, to DT. "They also provide a window on molecular activities in human living cells in a physiologically relevant tissue and organ context.In this study we could use this synthetic approach to break down a complex organ – in this case the human brain – into separate subcompartments of the microvasculature of the brain and normally closely intertwined neuronal networks.because we can separate each compartment and arrange ins and outs, while analyzing them with the latest analytical technologies, we have insight received in how cells within these different compartments communicate with each other. "