Window in mouse shows its "gut feelings"

You've no doubt been urged to "go with your gut" when facing a tricky decision that you just can't seem to think your way through. It turns out, the gut can indeed act as something of a second brain, as it contains five times more neurons than the spinal cord. Despite this cache of neurological activity, the gut's nervous system has not been extensively observed. To fix that, a Duke University researcher did the logical thing – inserted a window in a mouse's abdomen so he could watch.Read More


Molecule-blocking drug opens new path to pain relief

New research has shown success at blocking specific molecules involved in maintaining pain following a nerve injury, significantly lowering patient discomfort. The tests were successful in laboratory mice, indicating that it might prove effective in human tests, and the method is simple and easy for doctors to perform.Read More


DARPA's fascinating self-healing body initiative – ElectRx

DARPA's ElectRx project envisions tiny devices, the width of a single nerve strand, that could be injected into the body to monitor certain conditions and then stimulate targeted nerves in response, harnessing the body’s own repair mechanisms to deal with a range of conditions like chronic pain, diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis and certain autoimmune diseases. DARPA sees the potential to create new treatments that automatically and continuously tune themselves to the needs of a specific patient.Read More


3D-printed guide aids in complex nerve regeneration

Complex nerve injuries are a challenging problem for the medical fraternity, as their reattachment and regrowth is a fraught and delicate process that is very rarely successful. Overcoming these difficulties, however, would mean that a cure for debilitating conditions like paraplegia, quadriplegia and other forms of paralysis may one day be found. In this vein, US researchers have created the first-ever 3D printed guide specifically designed to assist in the regrowth of the sensory and motor functions of complex nerves.Read More


Scientists turn blood into nerve cells in pursuit of better pain relief

As it stands, there's not a whole lot we know about pain. Where a tissue or blood sample can be drawn and studied, our nervous system comprising different kinds of cells running signals through complex piping around the body presents a difficult task for scientific research. But a new study details a technique that turns blood cells into different nerve cells, promising to improve our understanding of why things itch or burn. By extension, it is hoped that it could lead to new forms of pain relief that do away with unwanted side effects such as sleepiness or loss of concentration.Read More

Health & Wellbeing

Existing skin medications may reverse effects of multiple sclerosis

It's a frustrating situation. There are already stem cells in the nervous system that are capable of repairing the damage done by multiple sclerosis, but getting them to do so has proven very difficult. Now, however, a multi-institutional team led by Case Western Reserve University's Prof. Paul Tesar may have found the answer – and it involves using medications that were designed to treat athlete's foot and eczema. Read More

3D Printing

3D-printed guide could find use in better nerve repairs

When someone suffers an injury that results in a severed nerve, the usual treatment involves sewing the two severed ends directly back together, or bridging them by suturing in a nerve graft. Such repairs don't always function perfectly, however. What works better is to let the two ends grow back into each other. Scientists at the University of Sheffield have developed a means of helping them do so, in the form of a 3D-printed nerve guidance conduit (NGC).Read More


First contracting human muscle ever grown in laboratory

Researchers working at Duke University’s Pratt School of Engineering claim to have produced a laboratory first by having grown human muscle tissue that contracts and reacts to stimuli. Electrical pulses, biochemical signals and pharmaceuticals have all been used to produce reactions in the tissue that show it behaves in the same way that natural human muscles does. As a result, laboratory grown tissue may soon provide researchers with the ability to study diseases and assess drugs without invasive procedures on human subjects. Read More

Gel-coated implants could reverse paralysis caused by nerve damage

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


Non-surgical procedure repairs severed nerves in minutes

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


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