Self-assembling Nanofibers Heal Spinal Cords in Mice

Posted on April 10, 2008  Comments (1)

Self-assembling Nanofibers Heal Spinal Cords by Prachi Patel-Predd

An engineered material that can be injected into damaged spinal cords could help prevent scars and encourage damaged nerve fibers to grow. The liquid material, developed by Northwestern University materials science professor Samuel Stupp, contains molecules that self-assemble into nanofibers, which act as a scaffold on which nerve fibers grow.

Stupp and his colleagues described in a recent paper in the Journal of Neuroscience that treatment with the material restores function to the hind legs of paralyzed mice.

The new work is the first test for the material to heal spinal cord injuries in animals. And Kessler says that it worked better than the researchers expected. The researchers stimulated a spinal cord injury in mice and injected the material 24 hours later. They found that the material reduced the size of scars and stimulated the growth of the nerve fibers through the scars. It promoted the growth of both types of nerve fibers that make up the spinal cord: motor fibers that carry signals from the brain to the limbs, and sensory fibers that carry sense signals to the brain. What is more, the material encouraged the nerve stem cells to mature into cells that create myelin–an insulating layer around nerve fibers that helps them to conduct signals more effectively.

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One Response to “Self-assembling Nanofibers Heal Spinal Cords in Mice”

  1. Curious Cat Science and Engineering Blog » Tiny Machine Commands a Swarm of Bacteria
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