Researchers at the Ames Laboratory have taken a step toward helping people with nerve injuries to walk and move again. The research in rats has shown the ability to direct the growth of nerve cells to reconnect severed nerves. Researcher Surya Mallapragada says they cut tiny grooves in biodegradable plastic that channels the nerves in the right direction.She says that’s one of the issues with a severed nerve, you have a gap and the nerves don’t know which direction to grow to close the gap. Mallapragada says they plastic guides required use of some now common technology. She says they borrowed techniques used to make computer microchips to create the tiny grooves in the plastic guides. Mallapragada says the used the plastic guide and other growth enhancers to treat a rat with a cut nerve in its leg. She says the rate was able to walk again in about five weeks. The research focused on the peripheral nervous system, and she says the want to take it to the next level. She says they want to move on to work on some adult stem cells to advance the work to the central nervous system. She says this presents more problems, as the cells of the central nervous system grow differently.
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