A new nano-particle-infused hydrogel, developed by scientists from Clemson University, should be able to heal scrambled brains and broken bones. The gel creates new blood vessels and in a later stage encourages the body to make its own stem cells to replace dead bone and/or brain cells.
The gel is currently in a testing phase. The results from these tests show that almost all muscle and sensory functions from test rats had recovered twelve weeks after serious brain injury.
Nigh Zang, a Clemson University scientist, used a controlled cortical impactor to strike the rats forehead, which destroys most of the cortex of the brain. Fluid fills the area around the damaged tissue. The fluid will be replaced with a liquid. This liquid contains three different neural growth factors, which are encased in different biodegradable nanoparticles.
Due to the body temperature the liquid is turned into a gelatin scaffold which enhances the growth of blood vessels to feed the recovering tissue. In the following three to four weeks the three different types of nanoparticles brake open and release their contents.
The first growth factors find neural stem cells and prepare them for travel. The second growth factors aid in the travel of the stem cells. The final growth factors turn the stem cells into neurons and glial cells (cells that protect the neurons in the brain). With a modified version this hydrogel could also heal scattered bones.
The scientists state that the goal of the project is to encourage neurological regeneration of damaged tissue. If the damaged regions are not restored their function will be lost permanently.
Will we be able to heal and regenerate anything within the near future, providing people another sense of decay?