Rat Brains on Microchips to Help Cure Disease

People have been talking for years about merging living creatures and computers. Business Insider reports that after years of experiments we’re moving one step closer to that with a new development – living cells harvested from rates merged with microchips.

Your brain on a microchipResearchers at the University of Calgary's Hotchkiss Brain Institute have made a key advance in connecting brain cells to a newly designed silicon chip that allows them to "hear" the conversation between living tissue and an electronic device as never before. Being able to monitor the dialogue between cell and silicon chip is a crucial…2010-08-11T19:26:49.000Z

By using living brain and circulatory cells set into microchips with tiny pathways to simulate circulatory systems scientists have successfully been able to replicate many of the natural occurrences within bodies in a controlled, measurable and observable way.

Why is this important?

Scientists hope to use this new chip to be able to directly test and study both diseases such as Alzheimer’s as well as new drugs they can inject directly into neural pathways, allowing them to test new developments without any risk to living creatures (human or otherwise).

The studies have been funded by the U.S. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) and the “brain-on-a-chip” is the first in a series of developments they hope to have completed that will be able to eventually simulate the entire human body, essentially creating a “human-on-a-chip”. This would enable them to do full testing of any new medications or medical developments in safe laboratories and roll-out new cures much, much faster than previous testing on live subjects with limited monitoring capability allowed.

The big question then is, with all of these developments, could this means that we may actually be able to see successful human-computer integration (a.k.a. cyborgs) in the coming few years?