Friday, February 10, 2012

Invention of the Day: Nerve Repair.

The New Scientist reports on a new, potentially breakthrough technique, to repair nerve damage in injuries.

10 February 2012. NS -- When a nerve is severed through injury, surgeons must suture the two stumps together as quickly as possible. Yet even under controlled lab conditions, Bittner's tests in rats suggest that these conventional sutures restore little more than 30 per cent of previous mobility, even three months after surgery.

Put bluntly, the body botches nerve repair. It forms seals over the two severed stumps of a broken nerve within an hour, says Bittner, but it doesn't reconnect them first. Even if surgeons then suture the two ends, the seals will prevent nerve signals from passing easily across the join.

Bittner realised that we need a system that blocks the body's repair process. The way to do that, he discovered, is to immediately flush the injury site with a calcium-free salty solution that also contains methylene blue, a chemical that blocks oxidation reactions. Calcium and oxidation drive the formation of tiny spheres called vesicles, which in turn seal the nerve stumps.

tags: health, distribution, information, control, invention, biology, science

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