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To bring CONNECT technology “to life,” we went through many ideas, all of which had advantages and disadvantages. The possibilities were evaluated on the criteria of simplicity, feasibility, creativity, and cost.
1. We initially imagined an electronically operated apparatus to isolate specific areas in the body, monitor nerve cells and repair lost connections. However, after performing extensive research on the functions of nerve cells, we learned that there were many essential proteins that would have to be incorporated into the treatment.
2. Next, we looked to the cells themselves to see if we could synthetically divide the nerve cells to create new cells. This idea was sparked by the recent discovery that, contrary to popular belief, some specialized nerve cells, called horizontal interneurons, divide. However, the group felt it more pertinent to work on nerve cell repair, rather than the introduction of brand new cells to the human body, because so many nervous system diseases are related to the deterioration of specific parts of nerve cells, and working with existing cells was easier than creating new ones.
3. Stem cells are quickly becoming a common focus of neuroscience research. We considered taking a stem-cell approach to CONNECT, however, we decided not to. Apart from the controversy and expense associated with stem cells, the area has been researched extensively and we wanted a more creative, alternate solution. There was also the possibility that the stem cells may not serve our technology consistently.
Why we Chose
Using the essential enzymes seemed like a realistic way to target the unconnected nerve cells. An injection with a capsule containing all of the essential proteins required for the rebuilding of nerve cells seemed like a logical solution. CONNECT is more scientific than the electronic component, more targeted to our overall goal than the cell division proposal, and less controversial than the stem cell research. After our extensive analysis of options, we were ready to tackle the future technology of CONNECT.