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Thursday, August 4, 2016

New Chip That Simulates Human Nerve-To-Muscle Connections

MIT Creates a Chip That Simulates the Connection between Nerves and Muscle

Brian Heater | August 4, 2016

In an attempt to better understand neuromuscular conditions like ALS, engineers at MIT have developed a quarter-sized chip housing a muscle strip and some motor neurons. The setup is designed to recreate the neuromuscular junction, the bit of chemical synapse where neurons and muscle fibers meet.
The team has developed a method for creating muscle response by shining a light onto the neuron set, creating a twitch or contraction. The chip is designed to better understand the junction and the diseases that impact it.
The device was created using mice cells, which were separated out into motor neurons and muscle components and fused into those parts. Pillars were inserted into the muscle fiber dring the process to help visualize displacement and create a a method for detecting the force that was exerted during muscle contraction.

"The MIT chip simulates the behavior of a neuromuscular junction." Source:

"A new microfluidic device that replicates the neuromuscular junction — the vital connection where nerve meets muscle — contains a small cluster of neurons (green) and a single muscle fiber (red). A fluorescence image, bottom, shows the motor neurons sending out axons toward a muscle strip over a distance of about 1 millimeter." Source:

<more at; related articles and links: (Replicating the connection between muscles and nerves. New chip could help test drugs for ALS, other neuromuscular disorders. August 3, 2016) and (MIT Chip Coinnecting Nerves and Muscles. August 4, 2016)>

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