The “e-Dura” spinal implant could be the long-awaited cure for paralysis.
From there, it could help paralyzed people to walk again through a series of electrodes and drugs that are delivered directly into the nervous system.
The creation by French scientists may seem like science fiction, but technology has come a long way in helping the disabled regain their independence.
The spinal implant was fitted to paralyzed rats. After “just a few weeks of training,” the news site reports, the rats were able to walk again on their own.
“Our e-Dura implant can remain for a long period of time on the spinal cord or cortex,” said Professor Stéphanie Lacour. “This opens up new therapeutic possibilities for patients suffering from neurological trauma or disorders, particularly individuals who have become paralyzed following spinal cord injury.”
Previous experiments utilizing this technology have demonstrated that the chemicals and electrodes could restore involuntary movement to the affected areas by taking on the role of the brain and stimulating nerves. However, “this is the first study to show a simple gadget can help rats walk again and be tolerated by the body,” the Telegraph adds.
The electrodes and drugs administered by e-Dura are capable of activating cells and can be pulled and stretched to endure complex bodily movements.
Writer Robert Service wrote in the journal Science that “the combination [of nerves connected to silicon and metal] has spawned many a Hollywood cyborg.”
“The implants Lacour’s team created still have to be wired to the outside world to operate, but she and her colleagues are designing wireless versions of the technology. Watch out, Hollywood, reality is catching up.”
British scientists are said to be very enthusiastic about the spinal implant technology.
“The work described here is a groundbreaking achievement of technology, which could open a door to a new era in treatment of neuronal damage,” said Dr. Dusko Ilic, Reader in Stem Cell Science at King’s College London.
“Until now, the most advanced prostheses in intimate contact with the spinal cord caused quite substantial damage to tissue in just one week due to their stiffness… There is still a long way to go before we may see any practical use of such neuroprostheses in humans. But it may be that it is something that could potentially be developed for use in humans in the foreseeable future.”
Do you foresee the e-Dura spinal implant as being a cure for paralysis, and if so, do you think it will happen in your lifetime?
[Image via Telegraph, linked above]