Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Promising new nanotechnology for spinal cord injury

04.04.2008
A spinal cord injury often leads to permanent paralysis and loss of sensation below the site of the injury because the damaged nerve fibers can't regenerate. The nerve fibers or axons have the capacity to grow again, but don’t because they're blocked by scar tissue that develops around the injury.

Northwestern University researchers have shown that a new nano-engineered gel inhibits the formation of scar tissue at the injury site and enables the severed spinal cord fibers to regenerate and grow. The gel is injected as a liquid into the spinal cord and self -assembles into a scaffold that supports the new nerve fibers as they grow up and down the spinal cord, penetrating the site of the injury.

When the gel was injected into mice with a spinal cord injury, after six weeks the animals had a greatly enhanced ability to use their hind legs and walk.

The research is published today in the April 2 issue of the Journal of Neuroscience.

"We are very excited about this," said lead author John Kessler, M.D., Davee Professor of Stem Cell Biology at Northwestern University's Feinberg School of Medicine. "We can inject this without damaging the tissue. It has great potential for treating human beings."

Kessler stressed caution, however, in interpreting the results. "It's important to understand that something that works in mice will not necessarily work in human beings. At this point in time we have no information about whether this would work in human beings."

"There is no magic bullet or one single thing that solves the spinal cord injury, but this gives us a brand new technology to be able to think about treating this disorder," said Kessler, also the chair of the Davee Department of Neurology at the Feinberg School. "It could be used in combination with other technologies including stem cells, drugs or other kinds of interventions."

“We designed our self-assembling nanostructures -- the building blocks of the gel -- to promote neuron growth,” said co-author Samuel I. Stupp, Board of Trustees Professor of Materials Science and Engineering, Chemistry, and Medicine and director of Northwestern’s Institute for BioNanotechnology in Medicine. “To actually see the regeneration of axons in the spinal cord after injury is a fascinating outcome.”

The nano-engineered gel works in several ways to support the regeneration of spinal cord nerve fibers. In addition to reducing the formation of scar tissue, it also instructs the stem cells --which would normally form scar tissue -- to instead to produce a helpful new cell that makes myelin. Myelin is a substance that sheaths the axons of the spinal cord to permit the rapid transmission of nerve impulses.

The gel's scaffolding also supports the growth of the axons in two critical directions -- up the spinal cord to the brain (the sensory axons) and down to the legs (the motor axons.) "Not everybody realizes you have to grow the fibers up the spinal cord so you can feel where the floor is. If you can't feel where the floor is with your feet, you can't walk," Kessler said.

Now Northwestern researchers are working on developing the nano-engineered gel to be acceptable as a pharmaceutical for the Food & Drug Administration.

If the gel is approved for humans, a clinical trial could begin in several years.

"It's a long way from helping a rodent to walk again and helping a human being walk again," Kessler stressed again. "People should never lose sight of that. But this is still exciting because it gives us a new technology for treating spinal cord injury."

Marla Paul | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.northwestern.edu

More articles from Health and Medicine:

nachricht Millions through license revenues
27.04.2017 | Rheinische Friedrich-Wilhelms-Universität Bonn

nachricht New High-Performance Center Translational Medical Engineering
26.04.2017 | Fraunhofer ITEM

All articles from Health and Medicine >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Making lightweight construction suitable for series production

More and more automobile companies are focusing on body parts made of carbon fiber reinforced plastics (CFRP). However, manufacturing and repair costs must be further reduced in order to make CFRP more economical in use. Together with the Volkswagen AG and five other partners in the project HolQueSt 3D, the Laser Zentrum Hannover e.V. (LZH) has developed laser processes for the automatic trimming, drilling and repair of three-dimensional components.

Automated manufacturing processes are the basis for ultimately establishing the series production of CFRP components. In the project HolQueSt 3D, the LZH has...

Im Focus: Wonder material? Novel nanotube structure strengthens thin films for flexible electronics

Reflecting the structure of composites found in nature and the ancient world, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have synthesized thin carbon nanotube (CNT) textiles that exhibit both high electrical conductivity and a level of toughness that is about fifty times higher than copper films, currently used in electronics.

"The structural robustness of thin metal films has significant importance for the reliable operation of smart skin and flexible electronics including...

Im Focus: Deep inside Galaxy M87

The nearby, giant radio galaxy M87 hosts a supermassive black hole (BH) and is well-known for its bright jet dominating the spectrum over ten orders of magnitude in frequency. Due to its proximity, jet prominence, and the large black hole mass, M87 is the best laboratory for investigating the formation, acceleration, and collimation of relativistic jets. A research team led by Silke Britzen from the Max Planck Institute for Radio Astronomy in Bonn, Germany, has found strong indication for turbulent processes connecting the accretion disk and the jet of that galaxy providing insights into the longstanding problem of the origin of astrophysical jets.

Supermassive black holes form some of the most enigmatic phenomena in astrophysics. Their enormous energy output is supposed to be generated by the...

Im Focus: A Quantum Low Pass for Photons

Physicists in Garching observe novel quantum effect that limits the number of emitted photons.

The probability to find a certain number of photons inside a laser pulse usually corresponds to a classical distribution of independent events, the so-called...

Im Focus: Microprocessors based on a layer of just three atoms

Microprocessors based on atomically thin materials hold the promise of the evolution of traditional processors as well as new applications in the field of flexible electronics. Now, a TU Wien research team led by Thomas Müller has made a breakthrough in this field as part of an ongoing research project.

Two-dimensional materials, or 2D materials for short, are extremely versatile, although – or often more precisely because – they are made up of just one or a...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Fighting drug resistant tuberculosis – InfectoGnostics meets MYCO-NET² partners in Peru

28.04.2017 | Event News

Expert meeting “Health Business Connect” will connect international medical technology companies

20.04.2017 | Event News

Wenn der Computer das Gehirn austrickst

18.04.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Wireless power can drive tiny electronic devices in the GI tract

28.04.2017 | Medical Engineering

Ice cave in Transylvania yields window into region's past

28.04.2017 | Earth Sciences

Nose2Brain – Better Therapy for Multiple Sclerosis

28.04.2017 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>