Implants To Be Developed by Engineers to Assist Paralyzed Israelis

In recent news, Israeli scientists have given hope to people who are currently suffering from long-term paralysis. According to these experts, citizens in the State of Israel might be able to walk once again as they have successfully come up with a human spinal cord tissue, specifically a 3D one, for the first time in history. This good news was revealed after the results of a successful study were published in a well-known journal, Advanced Science. It was carried out by various researchers belonging to the Sagol Center, which focuses on Regenerative Biotechnology at Tel Aviv University. 

The center is headed by Tal Dvir, a professor at TAU. A couple of researchers also came on board, who are employed at the Shmunis School of Biomedicine and Cancer Research. Some scientists were further recruited from the Department of Biomedical Engineering at the University. The team of experts from the lab of Dvir includes Lio Wertheim, a PhD student, along with Dr. Yona Goldshmit and Dr. Reuven Edri. Where a spinal cord injury is concerned, it can often paralyze a person. This usually happens when the spinal cord, as well as the nerves located at the very edge of the spinal canal, sustain considerable injuries. 

Consequently, a person experiences permanent changes in their everyday sensations, strength, and several other bodily functions. In some cases, spinal cord injuries have also been known to cause long-term paralysis. Currently, there is no cure for this diagnosis. Despite the numerous attempts that have been made in the past and are currently being made across the globe to promote intervened or natural regeneration where the injury has occurred, there has been little to no success. 

Most of the existing investigated and experimental methods focus primarily on transplanting biomaterials or different cells into the place where the injury has been sustained. However, two issues pose a problem in the success of this treatment. First being, the immune system does not always respond favorably to the cells that have been transplanted, causing them to be immediately rejected. On the other hand, the cells planted are dissociated, which fail to form a functional network in the body. 

Therefore, the Israeli research team came up with the idea that they should mimic the development of embryos, through the application of a particular spinal cord motor neuron differentiation protocol. According to them, implementing this protocol in a 3D dynamic platform would ensure a supply of cells with signals that help in the formation of appropriate regenerative tissue. Moreover, they believe that this process would help the site heal and reduce the risk of the cells being rejected. 

Furthermore, they hypothesized that assembling a proper and working neuron network before implantation would help raise the chances of appropriate engraftment, which acclimates the cells with the host body quite easily. The procedure that has been developed by the experts will include taking a portion of fatty tissue biopsy and then using the protocols to separate the extracellular biomaterial and the cells from each other.

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