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3D Printing Offers Hope for Those With Spinal Cord Injuries

Sky News reports on developments brought about by 3D printing in connection with spinal cord injuries.  Researchers from the University of California, San Diego used 3D printing “to create the scaffolding around which stem cells can be implanted.  [This] helped rats to regain significant motor control in their hind legs.”

These implants “contain dozens of tiny channels, just 200 micrometers wide.”  This miniscule size helps “guide neural stem cells and axon growth along the spinal cord injuries.”  These scaffolds have biocompatible designs, so “the body’s blood vessel system can naturally grow so the nerve fibers are kept alive and fed with nutrients as well as discharge waste.”

These implants can be 3D printed in less than two seconds for each device, according to the team.  They published their results in the scientific journal Nature.  During their research, they were able to “print a spinal cord loaded with neural stem cells.  In the tests on rats, the scaffolds helped the animals regrow tissue and the stem cells nerve fibers inside the scaffolding expanded out into the host spinal cord.”

Trained Doctor and scientist, who directs the Translational Neuroscience Institute at UC San Diego School of Medicine, Professor Mark Tuszybski, who co-authored the paper, explains: “we’ve progressively moved closer to the goal of abundant, long-distance regeneration of injured axons in spinal cord injury, which is fundamental to any true restoration of physical function…the new work puts us even closer to the real thing…the 3D scaffolding recapitulates the slender, bundled arrays of axons in the spinal cord.  It helps organize regenerating axons to replicate the anatomy of the pre-injured spinal cord.”

Image and Quotes Courtesy of Sky News

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