there is new hope to help restore function to paralyzed limbs – Forever Young

Scientists in the United Kingdom consider promising a new approach in which they developed a “biohybrid” neural implant, which improves the connection between the brain and paralyzed limbs, according to experiments with mice, advances Lusa.

A team coordinated by researchers from the University of Cambridge, in the United Kingdom, published a study in Science Advances in which it details the new device, which combines flexible electronics and stem cells to better integrate with the nerve and enhance the function of the extremities, reported this Wednesday the agency Efe.

The use of neural implants to restore limb function is challenging, and most attempts have failed due to scar tissue forming around the leads over time, preventing the connection between the device and the nerve.

In the new device, the researchers placed a layer of muscle cells reprogrammed from stem cells between the electrodes and living tissue, and found that the implant integrated into the host’s body and prevented scar tissue from forming.

This is the first time that induced pluripotent stem cells have been used in this way in a living organism, the researchers noted.

The cells survived on the electrode for the 28 days that the experiment lasted, and this is “the first time that this phenomenon has been observed for such a long period”, highlighted the University of Cambridge.

“These cells give us a tremendous degree of control,” said Damiano Barone, one of the study’s authors.

“We can tell them how to behave and control them throughout the experience. By placing the cells between the electronics and the living body, the living body does not see the electrodes, it only sees the cells, so no scar tissue is generated,” he added.

The scientists report that by combining two advanced therapies for nerve regeneration – cell therapy and bioelectronics – in a single device, the shortcomings of both approaches can be overcome, improving functionality and sensitivity.

The “biohybrid” device was implanted in the paralyzed forearm of rats. The stem cells, transformed into muscle cells before implantation, were integrated into the animal’s forearm nerves.

The mice did not regain movement in the forearm, but the device was able to pick up signals from the brain that control movement. If connected to the rest of the nerve or a prosthesis, the device can help restore motion.

While further research and testing still needs to be carried out before it can be used in humans, the device is a “promising development for amputees or people who have lost function in one or more limbs”, the University of Cambridge said in a statement.

In addition to its potential to restore function in people who have lost the use of one or more limbs, the researchers point out that their device can also be used to control prostheses by interacting with specific axons responsible for motor control.

This interface “could revolutionize the way we interact with technology”, said Amy Rochford, also an author of the study.

“By combining living human cells with bioelectronic materials, we have created a system that can communicate with the brain in a more natural and intuitive way, which opens up new possibilities for prostheses, brain-machine interfaces and even for improving cognitive ability.”

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