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Using graphene nanoribbons for spinal repair

Spinal cord injuries can cause a variety of issues for individuals from severe pain to paralysis. Maryland residents with spinal cord injuries may be interested to know that graphene nanoribbons and a certain polymer may be used to repair damaged spinal cords.

Researchers at Rice University have used a special chemical process to isolate graphene nanoribbons from multi-walled carbon nanotubes. Having long since been used to improve materials for batteries and parts used in airplanes, graphene nanoribbons are now being developed for medical use. Specifically, a substance referred to as Texas-PEG, derived from graphene nanoribbons, may be used to knit injured or damage spinal cords.

The graphene nanoribbons are combined with polyethylene glycol, or PEG, a polymer gel that is routinely used in medical applications such as when producing pharmaceutical products and during surgeries. Because of graphene's conductive properties, neurons are able to thrive on the material. The manner in which the nanoribbons and the PEG are mixed together allows them to form an electrically active structure that allows the severed ends of a spinal cord to reunite. Although a mere one percent of Texas-PEG is composed of nanoribbons, it is enough to create a conductive framework with which a spinal cord can reconnect.

The success of Texas-PEG has been proven with a rodent as a test subject. The material was able to restore function so that motor and sensory neuronal signals were able to be transmitted from one end of the rodent's severed spine to the other within 24 hours. After two weeks, nearly all motor control abilities were recovered.

A personal injury, such as a damaged or severed spinal cord, may be sustained as a result of a car accident. The injured individual may obtain compensation with the assistance of a personal injury attorney.

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