Traumas leading to peripheral nerve damage are usually difficult to treat, often immobilizing a person. Scientists from China have created a material that replenishes these defects and returns the nerves to their conductive functions.
The peripheral nerve injuries that transmit signals from brain to body often result in chronic pain, neurological disorders, and paralysis and disability. Modern treatment options aimed at replacing damaged nerve fibers with artificial or partially implanted nerve fibers from healthy ones have very limited effectiveness, so scientists are trying to develop simpler and more targeted methods of recovery.
The new hydrogel, developed by Chinese scientists, can restore damage and transmit bioelectric signals, writes EurekAlert. It is a strong and flexible material containing polyaniline and polyacrylamide, which after administration forms a microporous network, allowing nerve cells to attach to it for tissue repair.
The team tested hydrogel on rats with sciatic nerve damage.
Two weeks after treatment, the sciatic nerve regained its bioelectric properties and the rodents’ motor function improved.
It is important to note that additional benefits in this approach can be provided by exposure to infrared radiation, which improves the electrical conductive properties of the biomaterial. This combined treatment is still being tested by scientists on animals.