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Scientists have been able to make paralysed rats walk again. An elastic implant that imitates natural tissue and moves together with the spinal cord, could be a groun breaking news for people who got paralysed after a spinal cord incident.
So far this experiment hasn’t be done on humans. In order to do so there would be necessary multifunctional implants capable to work for longer periods of time on the spinal cord without damaging the tissue.
The e Dura implant, has been developed by Professors Stephanie Lacour and Gregoire Courtine to be implanted on the surface of the brain or on the spinal cord. The small invention is a close imitation of the mechanics of the tissues and is able to transmit electric impulses and curative substances.
The first testing of the e Dura, was made on paralysed rats with injuries on their spinal cords. What is believed these implants could do is beyond anything. It could be used for epilepsy, or chronic pain and even Parkinson’s disease.
The next step would be for scientists to start tests with humans in order to develop a prototype ready to be put on the market. The risks that the implants damage the spinal cord have been highly reduced.
The implant is very flexible and can be stretched a lot. The placement for it would be on the dura mater exactly on the spinal cord. Its capacity of stretching and following different shapes is very close to the living tissue around it. This means less chances for friction or inflammation to happen. On rats the implant didn’t show signs of rejections or body damage, even after two months have passed. Other types of implants would have seriously affected the nerve tissue.
Scientists tested the electric prototype which turned out to be biocompatible with the implant and helped the rats to start walking again.
“Our e-Dura implant can remain for a long period of time on the spinal cord or the cortex, precisely because it has the same mechanical properties as the dura mater itself. “ said professor Lacour.
The success of this medical breakthrough can have a positive impact on people who paralyzed after a injury of the spinal cord.
The development of the e Dura has been a real challenge for the scientists. Building an implant that imitates as closely as possible the body tissue and adding to it electronic elements that send impulses to the spinal cord. Also, the electrical signals send to the brain can be monitored in real time. This allowed scientists to point the exact moment when the animal had a motor intention before it turned into movement.Image Source: WalkerFamilyLife