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By using biodegradable scaffolds, Italian researchers have successfully restored some degree of mobility in the hind legs of rats with spinal cord injuries. They published a study recently, detailing out how they built a thick hollow pasta like neuroprosthetic from PLGA and polycaprolactone and coated them with adhesives called self assembling peptides. The nano channels were then filled proregenerative cytokines and transplanted into the rats.
“Six months later conspicuous cord reconstruction was observed. The cyst was replaced by newly formed tissue comprising neural and stromal cells. Nerve fibers were interspersed between and inside the guidance channels, spanning the lesion, amidst a well-developed vascular network, basal lamina, and myelin. This was accompanied by a significant improvement in the activity of ascending and descending motor pathways and the global locomotion score.”
The researchers hope that this technology can eventually be used to help patients with paraplegia and other spinal cord injuries. They conclude that “by engineering nanostructured matrices into neuroprosthetics, it is possible to recreate an anatomical, structural, and histological framework, which leads to the replacement of large, hollow tissue gaps in the chronically injured spinal cord, fostering axonal regeneration and neurological recovery.”