Neural Guidance by Remote Control

This year, Michal Marcus, a doctoral student in Professor Orit Shefi's laboratory in the Faculty of Engineering, was awarded the academic-business sector scholarship for the Advancement of Women in Science from the Ministry of Science, Technology and Space. The scholarship was awarded for her research on magnetic control of cellular and drug delivery for local treatment. The research was conducted with the support of Given Imaging, a company that develops technological methods for non-invasive visual examinations of the digestive system.

In Professor Shefi's laboratory, which develops tools and methods for neuron rehabilitation, students from the fields of chemistry, biology and engineering all sit together.  Marcus, who earned her bachelor's degree in bio-technology, joined the lab while studying for her Master's degree, and is now studying for her PhD. In her research, she is attempting to control nerve cells by means of external magnetic fields. "I insert magnetic nanoparticles into the cells, and then, using external magnetic fields, it is possible to control the location and growth of the cells, and to orient cellular extensions," she says. "The main goal of our research is treatment and rehabilitation of patients after accidents, or treatment of patients with neurodegenerative diseases, such as Alzheimer's and Parkinson's disease. The magnetic nanoparticles can be loaded into restorative cells, such as stem cells, and injected into the body. An external magnetic field can then be used to guide the cells to the specific injured region. We believe that this approach will increase the effectiveness of the treatment, and reduce side effects.  I will be very pleased if this method will be implemented in the field of medicine.