Researchers at Northwestern St. Louis University have developed a biocompatible implant that helps repair damaged peripheral nerves and decomposes completely in the body within a month..
After serious injuries, accidents and prolonged exertion, many people suffer from peripheral nerve damage. It can cause numbness, pain, or weakness, and treatment is time consuming and not always effective. However, unlike the nerves of the brain and spinal cord, the peripheral ones are able to regenerate, restoring their functions. A biodegradable implant was created to speed up this process and improve treatment.
During operation, the device stimulates tissues with controlled electrical impulses to accelerate the release of proteins that promote natural regeneration. The frequency, strength and period of exposure are controlled remotely using a computer, so the treatment may differ for each individual case. Stimulation can replace surgery and partly physiotherapy.
New Hope for Nerve Regeneration
The implant is powered by a wireless transmitter, and decomposes without a trace under the influence of salt (saline) in 2-4 weeks. The device is completely biocompatible and requires one hour of daily stimulation for two weeks for optimal effect.
So far, studies have only been conducted on laboratory rats with injured sciatic nerves. All objects that received stimulation recovered faster, and the longer the exposure, the better the result. Before testing the device on humans, scientists want to be fully convinced of its safety and the absence of such effects that occur over time. However, they are confident that their invention will usher in the era of biocompatible electronic medical systems..
Scientists offer not only new options for more effective treatment, but also to create any human organs and cells on a 3D printer.
text: Ivan Malichenko, photo: Matthew Macewan / Mike Worful, video: NorthwesternU