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Spinal repairs

作者:湛椁銎    发布时间:2019-03-08 07:18:06    

By Nell Boyce FOR the first time, scientists have managed to repair an animal’s spinal cord after it has been severed, allowing it to transmit nerve impulses again. Polyethylene glycol (PEG), a compound which has long been used in cosmetic medicine, can fuse cell membranes, and researchers have used it to join severed nerve cells taken from earthworms. To see if it would be possible to repair spinal cords using PEG, Riyi Shi and Richard Borgens of Purdue University in West Lafayette, Indiana, removed spinal cords from guinea pigs, severed them, and pressed the ends back together while applying PEG. When they measured the cords’ electrical conductivity a few minutes later, they found that all of them transmitted some charge. On average, the repaired cords had 5 per cent of their previous conductivity, while some of them had as much as 58 per cent. The researchers reported their findings last week at the annual meeting of the Society for Physical Regulation in Biology and Medicine in Long Beach, California. “It’s proof positive that nerve impulses were restored,” says Borgens. Although 5 per cent of normal function doesn’t sound like much, it could mean the difference between paralysis and being able to walk, he believes. The team is now testing the method on living animals, and is drafting a proposal for human trials. “It’s clearly very exciting,” says Vassilis Koliatsos, who works on regenerating neurons with growth factors at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore, Maryland. “PEG is a bridge,” he says. “In the past, the dogma was that you didn’t only need bridges,

 

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