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Disappearing Act

Resorbable nerve stimulator means no need for another op to remove this treatment to help nerve regeneration

28 October 2018

Disappearing Act

When nerves are damaged, a little shock to the system can them help to heal. Stimulating nerve endings with electrical impulses during surgery boosts regeneration, but until recently there was no way to continue this type of therapy as patients recover. Now a team of scientists has designed a paper-thin bioelectronic implant (in silver, with nerves shown in yellow, in the model) wirelessly controlled to deliver regular electrical impulses to injured nerves. In rats, stimulation with this system over several days enhanced regeneration of the sciatic nerve, suggesting that longer-term stimulation can speed up recovery. Remarkably, the device is fully biodegradable, dissolving harmlessly so no second operation is required to remove it, with components that can be adjusted to control how long it stays active for. Next steps include identifying how much stimulation yields maximum benefits, refining a technique that could eventually have far-reaching impacts on the treatment of injury.

Written by Emmanuelle Briolat

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BPoD stands for Biomedical Picture of the Day. Managed by the MRC Laboratory of Medical Sciences until Jul 2023, it is now run independently by a dedicated team of scientists and writers. The website aims to engage everyone, young and old, in the wonders of biology, and its influence on medicine. The ever-growing archive of more than 4000 research images documents over a decade of progress. Explore the collection and see what you discover. Images are kindly provided for inclusion on this website through the generosity of scientists across the globe.

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