Biodegradable device speeds nerve regeneration in rats

11 Octobre, 2018, 18:25 | Auteur: Yves Courtet
  • Scientists say a biodegradable gadget could help people recover from peripheral nerve injuries

In tests on injured rats, it quickened the regrowth of nerves in the legs leading to the recovery of muscle strength.

Experts have been seeking ways to treat the condition, but few treatments have had any dramatic impact.

In the recent invention, the team of researchers who are from Northwestern University, as well as Washington University of School of Medicine, are said to develop a new medicine.

"In the case reported here, we built bioresorbable electronic devices that support unique function relevant to recovery from damage to a peripheral nerve, via electrical stimulation at select time points during the healing process".

The electrical stimulation was more effective at recovering muscle mass and muscle strength than nothing at all, and the more days of electrical stimulation the rats received, the better the results.

Co-senior author John Rogers, PhD, of Northwestern, and colleagues designed and developed a device that wraps around an injured nerve and delivers electrical pulses for days before the device harmlessly degrades in the body.

"We know that electrical stimulation during surgery helps, but once the surgery is over, the window for intervening is closed", said co-senior author Dr. Wilson "Zack" Ray, an associate professor of neurosurgery, of biomedical engineering and of orthopedic surgery at Washington University.

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The device has not yet been tested on humans but researchers believe the findings can assist future therapeutic options for nerve injury.

At Northwestern, Rogers and his lab spent eight years developing a complete collection of electronic materials, device designs and manufacturing techniques for biodegradable devices with a broad range of options.

The new device, described in the journal Nature Medicine, is powered wirelessly by a transmitter outside the body. The medicine that they have developed is said to be the first example of bioelectronics medicine which is an implantable biodegradable wireless device. In the nerve stimulation study, the device was used to provide one hour a day of electrical stimulation to the rats for one, three or six days. The scientists found no adverse effects relating to the device or its reabsorption.

"Before we did this study, we weren't sure that longer stimulation would make a difference, and now that we know it does we can start trying to find the ideal time frame to maximize recovery", Ray said. "Had we delivered electrical stimulation for 12 days instead of six, would there have been more therapeutic benefit?" This device after some days get disappear into the body itself and does not leave any kind of trace about itself. They are working now on creating new versions that can provide electrical pulses for weeks before degrading. The ability of the device to degrade in the body takes the place of a second surgery to remove a non-biodegradable device, thereby eliminating additional risk to the patient. "With this device, we've shown that electrical stimulation given on a scheduled basis can further enhance nerve recovery".

They also varied the composition and thickness of the materials in the device.

Reference: Koo, J., MacEwan, M. R., Kang, S. -K., Won, S. M., Stephen, M., Gamble, P., ... But Abbott in September 2017 announced it would stop selling its Absorb bioresorbable stent after the device failed to catch on with interventional cardiologists.

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