A solution based on carbon nanotubes to restore motor functions in patients with spinal cord injuries
Asociación Centro de Investigación Cooperativa en Biomateriales, San Sebastián, Spain
The project proposes a novel solution for restoring motor functions in patients suffering from spinal cord injury. The research team aims to gather new evidence on the potential of small carbon nanotube implants to promote electrical reconnection at the site of injury and, as a result, the recovery of lost functions. They have previously demonstrated that carbon nanotube implants in small mammals allow them to regain activity shortly after a paralysing injury. As they have observed, providing a nanotube scaffold encourages the growth and synaptic/electrical reconnection of newly sprouted nerve fibres, leading to the recovery of lost functions, including motor functions, as well as strength and the sense of touch.
Due to their unique combination of morphology, strength, flexibility, biocompatibility and electrical conductivity, carbon nanotubes form a matrix which, according to the researchers, is the ideal artificial implant for inducing neuronal growth, maturation and reconnection, and the repopulation of damaged tissue. The team aims to demonstrate the technical and economic viability of the proposed solution by improving the design of the implants and their production process, and by testing the restoration of motor function in small mammals in order to progress, in later stages, to larger animals first, and subsequently to clinical trials.
Preliminary demonstration and valorization of therapeutic rewiring of (partially) severed spinal cord