A team of medical researchers have invented World’s First 3D Human Spinal Cord implant that would allow paraplegics to walk, swim and cycle again.
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The implant, according to a journal by Nature Medicine, was worked on by a team of 69 medical experts.
The journal noted, “Epidural Electrical Stimulation is delivered with multielectrode paddle leads that were originally designed to target the dorsal column of the spinal cord.
“Here, we hypothesised that an arrangement of electrodes targeting the ensemble of dorsal roots involved in leg and trunk movements would result in superior efficacy, restoring more diverse motor activities after the most severe SCI.
To test this hypothesis, we established a computational framework that informed the optimal arrangement of electrodes on a new paddle lead and guided its neurosurgical positioning.
We also developed software supporting the rapid configuration of activity-specific stimulation programs that reproduced the natural activation of motor neurons underlying each activity,” the researchers said.
Over the next few years the scientists plan to be able to create personalised implants to repair tissue damaged from injury, and without the risk of rejection by the body.
They are preparing for clinical trials in humans and hope that in the coming years the engineered tissues will be implanted into paralysed people enabling them to stand up and walk again.
The study was led by Professor Tal Dvir’s research team at the Sagol Centre for Regenerative Biotechnology, the Shmunis School of Biomedicine and Cancer Research, and the Department of Biomedical Engineering at Tel Aviv University.
Prof Dvir said: “The model animals underwent a rapid rehabilitation process, at the end of which they could walk quite well.
“This is the first instance in the world in which implanted engineered human tissues have generated recovery in an animal model for long-term chronic paralysis – which is the most relevant model for paralysis treatments in humans.
Clinical trials in humans are being prepared, with a hope that in the coming years the engineered tissues will be implanted into paralzsed people.
“There are millions of people around the world who are paralysed due to spinal injury, and there is still no effective treatment for their condition.
“Individuals injured at a very young age are destined to sit in a wheelchair for the rest of their lives, bearing all the social, financial, and health-related costs of paralysis.
“Our goal is to produce personalised spinal cord implants for every paralysed person, enabling regeneration of the damaged tissue with no risk of rejection.
The researchers used genetic engineering to reprogramme the cells and return them to a state that resembles embryonic stem cells – the cells capable of becoming any type of cell in the body.
Prof Dvir added that the researchers hope to reach the stage of clinical trials in humans within the next few years – and ultimately get these patients back on their feet and said they have good reason to expect relatively rapid approval of our technology.
Scientists invent World’s First 3D Human Spinal Cord Implant