New York, Feb 6 (IANS) Ever wondered what happens on the other side of our skulls when we hit our heads? Now, the world’s first tiniest hammer being developed by the US researchers may help understand what happens when force is applied to brain cells, an advance that may help improve treatments for brain injuries as well as Alzheimer’s disease.
The “microHammer” — a tiny cellular-scale machine — can be used to tap, strike, squeeze and poke individual neural progenitors to elicit responses to unlock the mysteries of the brain.
The device flows through individual cells and subjects each of them to one of a variety of physical forces, the researchers said.
“The microhammer will enable precision measurements of the physical, chemical and biological changes that occur when cells are subjected to mechanical loading, ranging from small perturbations to high-force, high-speed impacts,” Megan Valentine from University of California – Santa Barbara, said in a statement.
The microhammer is currently undergoing the process of characterisation, whereby the types and magnitudes of forces it can apply are being measured and recorded in anticipation of the first set of neuron-smashing experiments.
The microhammer will provide new insight into the causes and progress of brain injuries due to trauma.
It could also pave the way toward a better understanding of neural conditions such as Alzheimer’s disease as well as traumatic brain injury — a currently incurable and often insidious condition — that affects everyone from soldiers, to athletes in contact sports, to anyone who has an accident, Valentine said.