Neu­ron-in­te­grated nan­otubes to re­pair nerve fibers

Tehran Times - - SCIENCE -

Car­bon nan­otubes ex­hibit in­ter­est­ing char­ac­ter­is­tics ren­der­ing them par­tic­u­larly suited to the con­struc­tion of special hy­brid de­vices - con­sist­ing of bi­o­log­i­cal is­sue and syn­thetic ma­te­rial - planned to re-es­tab­lish con­nec­tions be­tween nerve cells, for in­stance at spinal level, lost on ac­count of le­sions or trauma.

More specif­i­cally, re­searchers have in­ves­ti­gated the pos­si­ble ef­fects on neu­rons of the in­ter­ac­tion with car­bon nan­otubes. Sci­en­tists have proven that th­ese nano­ma­te­ri­als may reg­u­late the for­ma­tion of synapses, spe­cial­ized struc­tures through which the nerve cells com­mu­ni­cate, and mod­u­late bi­o­log­i­cal mech­a­nisms, such as the growth of neu­rons, as part of a self-reg­u­lat­ing process. This re­sult, which shows the ex­tent to which the in­te­gra­tion be­tween nerve cells and th­ese syn­thetic struc­tures is sta­ble and ef­fi­cient, high­lights the great po­ten­tial­i­ties of car­bon nan­otubes as in­no­va­tive ma­te­ri­als ca­pa­ble of fa­cil­i­tat­ing neu­ronal re­gen­er­a­tion or in or­der to cre­ate a kind of ar­ti­fi­cial bridge be­tween groups of neu­rons whose con­nec­tion has been in­ter­rupted.

“In­ter­face sys­tems, or, more in gen­eral, neu­ronal pros­the­ses, that en­able an ef­fec­tive re-es­tab­lish­ment of th­ese con­nec­tions are un­der ac­tive in­ves­ti­ga­tion” ex­plain Laura Bal­lerini (SISSA) and Mau­r­izio Prato (UniTS-CIC BiomaGUNE), co­or­di­nat­ing the re­search project.

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