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Thread: Simple proteins could fix damaged nerve cells

  1. #1

    Simple proteins could fix damaged nerve cells

    Simple proteins could fix damaged nerve cells
    3/21/2007 3:53 PM
    By: Ivanhoe Broadcast News

    Amino acids waiting to be put on damaged cells. It's a fact of life: when nerve cells are destroyed, they can't be restored. Damage to nerve cells occurs after spinal cord injuries, traumatic brain injuries and strokes. But, Rutledge Ellis-Behnke, from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Boston, is hoping to save those cells and save the spine and the brain in the process. Ellis-Behnke's technique allows nerve cells to actually regrow. He does it by injecting tiny strings of amino acids into the injured area of the brain. Amino acids are the building blocks for the body. Once injected, the amino acids form a framework for parts of the nerve cells to grow through and around.
    "Basically, it's a series of amino acids, and it looks just like a comb. These are hydrophilic fingers ... And what happens is, when they come in close proximity to each other, they will self-assemble into a ribbon that has fingers on it, so it looks like fibrous ribbon. You inject this into the area that has been injured in the brain, and it forms a gel. It actually causes the brain to heal itself, where we have axons growing through the center; reconnecting ... We see functional return," Ellis-Behnke said.
    WATCH THE VIDEO Regrowing nerves

    A new technique for regrowing damaged nerve cells involves putting simple amino acids on the cells.

    In a study of hamsters with damaged vision, Ellis-Behnke and his team injected the amino acids into the hamsters' brains. He reports 75 percent of the hamsters regained their sight. Dr. Ellis-Behnke says the technique would first be used during brain surgeries to help heal the areas that are injured by the surgery. He's optimistic this will happen within five years.
    James Cook from the University of Missouri-Columbia is working on another body part. He's creating biological, living-cell implants for the knee and doing away with standard plastic and metal implants. His work has been studied in dogs with great success.
    The knee is created by a computer to fit each patient's specific needs. Using the computer scans of the patient, donor cells are grown into a specific "mold".
    "We take those cells and we actually grow them to start to make a tissue and then we prepare them to go back in your body. We exercise the cells in the laboratory, so they are ready to go into your joint," Cook said.
    The cells are actually exercised with a machine, so they develop into working, adaptable cartilage to be put in the knee.
    The problem with today's standard implants is that as soon as they are implanted, they start to degenerate. Cook says these biologic implants would have just the opposite effect. They'd actually get stronger and better over time.
    "Instead of getting worse from the day you put it in, it is actually getting better. It will become more used to what you do. If you play tennis, it's going to look different than someone who swims. If you walk, and you are a man, versus a woman, who jogs, it's going to look different. It's going to adapt to your activity," Cook said.
    Right now, the technique is being used in dogs with bad knees. Cook hopes and expects the research to make it to human trials. For humans, the implants would not only help knees, but could also be used for bad hip joints and arthritic hands.


  2. #2
    I am working with Rutledge Ellis-Behnke. He is now at Hong Kong University. This is really impressive technology.


  3. #3
    Id like to get more information about fixing damaged nerve cells, because i suffer from Transverse Myelitis and would also like to meet others who suffer similar illnessess

  4. #4
    Senior Member Bhaskar's Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2006
    Kolkata, India
    This is great work. And 2nd Chance I am also suffering from Transverse Myelitis.

  5. #5
    Senior Member NWC4's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Dr. Young,

    Is this something that could be used to bridge the damaged "gap" in SCI. Will he be using the China Network for clinical trials?

  6. #6
    Quote Originally Posted by Wise Young
    I am working with Rutledge Ellis-Behnke. He is now at Hong Kong University. This is really impressive technology.

    Is this something that already puts Total Record out of business?
    Last edited by Nicksdad; 03-31-2007 at 11:10 AM.
    please . . .test what you already know; and give us what you have. we may not be dying, but we certainly are not living either

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