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Innovative Gel May Be Able to Reverse Paralysis, Parkinson's Disease

Update Date: May 13, 2013 03:04 PM EDT

For a long time, nerve damage has generally meant a decreased quality of life: pain, decreased mobility and even paralysis. Recent innovations may spell the end of that. An innovative tube filled with a gel may be able to ultimately rejuvenate nerves, meaning that paralysis as we know it could be ended.

A nerve can be compared to an electrical cable. When an electrical cable is damaged or destroyed, it can no longer transfer power, and it loses its ability to function. Similarly, when destroyed or damaged, nerves are no longer able to communicate.

Researchers from Tel Aviv University in Israel have devised a method that may be able to repair nerve damage. The secret is in a tube that is used to connect two halves of a damaged nerve. The tube, which is biodegradable, is filled with a special gel.

The gel is made up of three important components: antioxidants, which have anti-inflammatory properties; synthetic laminin peptides, which serve as a track along which nerves can grow; and hyaluronic acid, which prevents the tube from drying out, a common problem for implants. The tube's components help encourage the nerves to grow and repair themselves.

So far, the implant has been tested in animals, with success. The gel is also able to be used as a standalone aid for cell therapy. In fact, studies have found that the gel is able to preserve cells and to help them grow.

The tube and gel are still a bit distant from being available for use in humans, though the creators of the technology say that it is just a few years away from use in humans. Its use does not just have ramifications for people with paralysis and other symptoms of nerve damage; researchers are exploring the gel's use with cell therapy in the fight against Parkinson's disease.

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