Health & Wellbeing

Gel-coated implants could reverse paralysis caused by nerve damage

Gel-coated implants could reve...
New technology could facilitate the healing of damaged nerves (Image: Shutterstock)
New technology could facilitate the healing of damaged nerves (Image: Shutterstock)
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New technology could facilitate the healing of damaged nerves (Image: Shutterstock)
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New technology could facilitate the healing of damaged nerves (Image: Shutterstock)

When a nerve in the peripheral nervous system is torn or severed, it can take a long time to regenerate – if it does so at all. Depending on the location of the injury, it can leave the affected part of the patient’s body numb and/or paralyzed for years, or even for the rest of their life. Now, however, scientists from Israel’s Tel Aviv University have created a gel and an implant that they claim could vastly aid in the healing of damaged nerves.

The implant is a tiny pliable biodegradable tube, that is placed around the two cut ends of the nerve. It serves to line them up with one another and hold them together end-to-end, plus its inner surface is coated with the gel.

Known as Guiding Regeneration Gel (GRG), the substance supports the growth of new nerve fibers via three key components – anti-oxidants, synthetic laminin peptides (amino acid compounds), and hyaluronic acid. The anti-oxidants help prevent inflammation, the peptides provide a sort of guiding line for the nerve fibers to grow along in the gap between the two cut ends, and the hyaluronic acid – which is typically found in the human fetus – keeps everything from drying out. As a result, nerves reportedly heal “quickly and smoothly.”

The implant/gel system has already been successfully tested on lab animals, with clinical use on humans said to be only a few years away. GRG could also be used on its own in the field of cell therapy, as a means of preserving cells for transplantation.

Source: American Friends of Tel Aviv University

4 comments
Mana Leituala
Amazing hope in such advances for patients.
Nitrozzy Seven
I wonder how long the surgery will be, if any... How much will the cost be? How soon? The repair seems to be based onto the body's ability to heal, and that can't mean side-effects. It's truly amazing. That's definitely something people could use...
ezeflyer
Does this only apply to peripheral nerves? Can it work in spinal cord injuries?
noteugene
I wonder if this would work for severed auditory nerves for the hearing impaired?