Researchers have created an ultra-flexible brain implant that may help restore injured spinal cords and nervous systems without inflammation or infection. "E-dura," named after the dura mater protective layer of the brain and spinal cord, is composed of soft silicone, with gold wiring laid down in a special mesh-like layer that allows it to bend and stretch. Implants need to be flexible because the spinal cord is flexible — stiff wiring can cause inflammation or even rejection. The e-dura, however, caused no reaction at all in rats it was implanted in. A more impressive test put e-dura implants in rats that were paralyzed via spinal injury. After a few weeks with e-dura sending electrical and chemical signals along the spinal cord patterned on the rat's brains' own "walk" signal, the rats were on their feet again.
It's not that simple in humans, of course, but having implants that are safe and effective in less complex nervous systems is a great place to start when it comes to human-centric treatment. The research, done at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology, appeared in the Jan. 9 issue of the Journal Science.
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