Once a spinal cord is damaged scarring occurs as nature’s way of preventing further damage. Unfortunately this scarring prevents the nerves from regenerating. There are various research projects underway to overcome this problem.
One approach is the use of hydrogels. Jellies, like aeroplane jelly, are edible hydrogels we all know. Medical hydrogels are water-based materials that can be injected as liquids into the injured part of the spinal cord. This is what makes hydrogels so useful. They are easily injected, and once in place, they set like edible jellies and hold their position.
More than this, hydrogels can form a bridge across the damaged area of the spinal cord reconnecting the brain and spinal cord.
Dr.-Ing. Laura De Laporte, junior group leader at DWI – Leibniz Institute for Interactive Materials in Aachen, heads up a research team investigating innovative and exciting ways of using hydrogels for spinal cord repair.
The group has a firm and clear goal. They are tailoring the physical, chemical, and biological properties of these gels “for spinal cord regeneration and to regain functionality”. Fingers crossed!
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