Human brain `on a microchip`

Canadian scientists have created a neurochip, that "communicates" with brain cells.

Toronto: Human brain on a microchip?
Yes, Canadian scientists have created such a microchip
basically a neurochip, that "communicates" with brain cells, a
discovery that they claim could help patients with Alzheimer`s
and Parkinson`s diseases.

In fact, the microchip is able to monitor the
electrical and chemical dialogue between brain cells, and to
track subtle changes in brain activity, say the scientists at
Calgary University.

Naweed Syed, who led the team, was quoted by the
media as saying, "We have never been able to record the subtle
activity from brain cells that we have now because this is
actually the last frontier.

"This technical breakthrough means we can track subtle
changes in brain activity at the level of ion channels and
synaptic potentials, which are also the most suitable target
sites for drug development in neuro-degenerative diseases and
neuropsychological disorders."

The new technology actually improves on a previous
chip by Syed`s team in 2004 that used brain cells from snails.
And, the new microchips are also automated, according to the
Canadian scientists.

According to the university, "Previously it took
years of training to learn how to record ion channel activity
from brain cells, and it was only possible to monitor one or
two cells simultaneously.

"Now, larger networks of cells can be placed on
a chip and observed in minute detail, allowing the analysis
of several brain cells networking and performing automatic,
largescale drug screening for various brain dysfunctions."

The findings have been published in the `Biomedical
Microdevices` journal.