An ‘EpiPen’ for spinal cord injuries

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ANN ARBOR—An injection of nanoparticles can prevent the body’s immune system from overreacting to trauma, potentially preventing some spinal cord injuries from resulting in paralysis.

The approach was demonstrated in mice at the University of Michigan, with the nanoparticles enhancing healing by reprogramming the aggressive immune cells—call it an “EpiPen” for trauma to the central nervous system, which includes the brain and spinal cord.

“In this work, we demonstrate that instead of overcoming an immune response, we can co-opt the immune response to work for us to promote the therapeutic response,” said Lonnie Shea, the Steven A. Goldstein Collegiate Professor of Biomedical Engineering.

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Bio-Printers are churning out living fixes to broken spines

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A new study showed that 3D-printing a spinal cord implant, shown here, restored movement in injured rats.UCSD JACOBS SCHOOL OF ENGINEERING

FOR DOCTORS AND medical researchers repairing the human body, a 3D printer has become almost as valuable as an x-ray machine, microscope, or a sharp scalpel. Bioengineers are using 3D printers to make more durable hip and knee joints, prosthetic limbs and, recently, to produce living tissue attached to a scaffold of printed material.

Researchers say that bio-printed tissue can be used to test the effects of drug treatments, for example, with an eventual goal of printing entire organs that can be grown and then transplanted into a patient. The latest step toward 3D-printed replacements of failed human parts comes from a team at UC San Diego. It has bio-printed a section of spinal cord that can be custom-fit into a patient’s injury.

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