US scientists control worms' movements with nanoparticles

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Melbourne, July 10 (ANI): Scientists in the US have found a way to remotely control animal behaviour.

Researchers at the University of Buffalo were able to could control the movements of tiny worms by introducing clusters of magnetic nanoparticles into their cell membranes.

A video of the worms shows them crawling around, before researchers turn on a magnetic field which heated the nanoparticles up, forcing the worms to change direction.

"We could use this method to make them go back and forth. Now we need to find out which other behaviours can be controlled this way," News.com.au quoted assistant professor of physics Arnd Pralle as saying.

Pralle said the worms reacted once the nanoparticle temperatures reached 34C, which is nature's own threshold for provoking an avoidance response.

He said staff developed a tool to heat the nanoparticles in the cell membrane only, as heating the cell itself would kill it.

Being able to heat it to an exact temperature was also due to the researchers' development of a "nanoscale thermometer" using fluorescent light.

Pralle said that the next step was to adapt the technology to a "whole animal" approach, which could lead to "innovative new pharmaceuticals".

The study has been published in the journal Nature Nanotechnology. (ANI)

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