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Nerves

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.  Read More

U.S. researchers have developed a nonsurgical technique to repair severed nerves in minute...

Professor George Bittner and his colleagues at the University of Texas at Austin Center for Neuroscience have developed a simple and inexpensive procedure to quickly repair severed peripheral nerves. The team took advantage of a mechanism similar to that which permits many invertebrates to regenerate and repair nerve damage. The new procedure, based on timely application of common chemicals to the severed nerve ends, could help patients to recover nearly full function in days or weeks.  Read More

'Optical cuffs' been used to stimulate muscle movements in mice (Photo: Rama)

In a study that could eventually restore movement to humans’ paralyzed limbs, researchers at California’s Stanford University have used light to induce muscle contractions in mice. A gene derived from algae was inserted into the mice, encoding a light-sensitive protein which adhered to their nerve cell surfaces. Scientists then placed an “optical cuff” lined with tiny, inwards-facing LEDs around the mice’s sciatic nerves. By penetrating those nerves with brief, high-intensity bursts of blue light, they were able to produce muscle contractions similar to those that would occur naturally. The technology is called “optogenetics.”  Read More

Left: diagram from a medical text showing how MS affects the myelin sheathing of nerves. R...

An Italian doctor has been getting dramatic results with a new type of treatment for Multiple Sclerosis, or MS, which affects up to 2.5 million people worldwide. In an initial study, Dr. Paolo Zamboni took 65 patients with relapsing-remitting MS, performed a simple operation to unblock restricted bloodflow out of the brain - and two years after the surgery, 73% of the patients had no symptoms. Dr. Zamboni's thinking could turn the current understanding of MS on its head, and offer many sufferers a complete cure.  Read More

The BrainPort device helps the blind to 'see' through their tongues

According to the National Institutes of Health, more than one million Americans over the age of 40 are legally blind - defined by U.S. law as vision that is 20/200 or worse, or have a field of view that is less than 20 degrees in diameter. It is estimated that adult vision loss costs the country about $51.4 billion per year. A new device aims to help restore the experience of vision for the blind and visually impaired by using nerves on the tongue's surface to send light signals to the brain.  Read More

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