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Gel-coated implants could reverse paralysis caused by nerve damage

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May 14, 2013

New technology could facilitate the healing of damaged nerves  (Image: Shutterstock)

New technology could facilitate the healing of damaged nerves (Image: Shutterstock)

When a nerve in the peripheral nervous system is torn or severed, it can take a long time to regenerate – if it does so at all. Depending on the location of the injury, it can leave the affected part of the patient’s body numb and/or paralyzed for years, or even for the rest of their life. Now, however, scientists from Israel’s Tel Aviv University have created a gel and an implant that they claim could vastly aid in the healing of damaged nerves.

The implant is a tiny pliable biodegradable tube, that is placed around the two cut ends of the nerve. It serves to line them up with one another and hold them together end-to-end, plus its inner surface is coated with the gel.

Known as Guiding Regeneration Gel (GRG), the substance supports the growth of new nerve fibers via three key components – anti-oxidants, synthetic laminin peptides (amino acid compounds), and hyaluronic acid. The anti-oxidants help prevent inflammation, the peptides provide a sort of guiding line for the nerve fibers to grow along in the gap between the two cut ends, and the hyaluronic acid – which is typically found in the human fetus – keeps everything from drying out. As a result, nerves reportedly heal “quickly and smoothly.”

The implant/gel system has already been successfully tested on lab animals, with clinical use on humans said to be only a few years away. GRG could also be used on its own in the field of cell therapy, as a means of preserving cells for transplantation.

Source: American Friends of Tel Aviv University

About the Author
Ben Coxworth An experienced freelance writer, videographer and television producer, Ben's interest in all forms of innovation is particularly fanatical when it comes to human-powered transportation, film-making gear, environmentally-friendly technologies and anything that's designed to go underwater. He lives in Edmonton, Alberta, where he spends a lot of time going over the handlebars of his mountain bike, hanging out in off-leash parks, and wishing the Pacific Ocean wasn't so far away.   All articles by Ben Coxworth
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4 Comments

Amazing hope in such advances for patients.

Mana Leituala
14th May, 2013 @ 09:06 pm PDT

I wonder how long the surgery will be, if any... How much will the cost be? How soon? The repair seems to be based onto the body's ability to heal, and that can't mean side-effects. It's truly amazing. That's definitely something people could use...

Nitrozzy Seven
15th May, 2013 @ 03:27 pm PDT

Does this only apply to peripheral nerves? Can it work in spinal cord injuries?

ezeflyer
15th May, 2013 @ 05:57 pm PDT

I wonder if this would work for severed auditory nerves for the hearing impaired?

noteugene
28th May, 2013 @ 11:38 pm PDT
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