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Stem cells + nanofibers = promising nerve research
Every week in his clinic at the University of Michigan, neurologist Joseph Corey, M.D., Ph.D., treats patients whose nerves are dying or shrinking due to disease or injury.
He sees the pain, the loss of ability and the other effects that nerve-destroying conditions cause – and wishes he could give patients more effective treatments than what’s available, or regenerate their nerves. Then he heads to his research lab at the VA Ann Arbor Healthcare System, where his team is working toward that exact goal.
In new research published in several recent papers (Nature Methods, Biomacromolecules, Materials Science and Engineering) Corey and his colleagues from the U-M Medical School, VAAAHS and the University of California, San Francisco report success in developing polymer nanofiber technologies for understanding how nerves form, why they don’t reconnect after injury, and what can be done to prevent or slow damage.
Using polymer nanofibers thinner than human hairs as scaffolds, researchers coaxed a particular type of brain cell to wrap around fibers that mimic the shape and size of nerves found in the body.
They’ve even managed to encourage the process of myelination – the formation of a protective coating that guards larger nerve fibers from damage. They began to see multiple concentric layers of the protective substance called myelin start to form, just as they do in the body.
Press release on protein nanofiber research!
Here’s an official press release of our research posted at the NYU-Poly website!