A new way to defeat paralysis

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Diseases of the spine lead to compression of the conduction of the nerve pathways, roots, impaired function of organs, impaired movement, and worsening of the general condition.

The most “painful”, in the literal sense, pathology of the spine is the intervertebral disc herniation. In fact, this is not an independent disease, but a syndrome of many diseases that lead to a violation of the structure of cartilage discs and vertebrae. Nevertheless, for the treatment of disc herniation abroad, many different methods have been developed that are constantly being improved with the advent of new technologies in medicine. All of them are used in the practice of foreign clinics, therefore the treatment of disc herniation abroad is much more effective.

Injuries to the spine with damage to the spinal cord are a serious medical problem. Despite the high level of development of spinal surgery, still a fairly large number of patients with spinal cord injuries remain paralyzed, “confined” to a bed or a wheelchair. After all, the nervous tissue is the most complex structure in the body, and it is far from being possible to restore it in all cases. In this direction, research and the search for new, more effective treatments for traumatic paralysis in Israel are ongoing.

The unique invention of Swiss scientists

Modern foreign neurosurgery uses one of the new methods in the treatment of spinal paralysis – implantation of electrodes in the spinal cord, which transmit an electrical impulse to nerve fibers that go to the muscles of the limbs. The method didn’t “take root” because the electrodes themselves, when used for a long time, cause injuries to the brain and its membranes during movements.

A group of scientists from the Lausanne Federal Polytechnic School, together with the NCCR-Robotics research center, have proposed an alternative to electrodes, which is both more effective and less traumatic, suitable for long-term use. They developed the implant "E-Dura" made of special soft silicone that can conduct electrical impulses and the necessary medicinal substances, its thickness does not exceed 200 microns. Inside the implant, platinum tracks were made to conduct an electrical impulse, as well as the thinnest channels with a diameter of 50 μm for conducting drugs that affect the spinal cord.

Implant test results are impressive

Testing of a new implant for repairing the spinal cord was successfully carried out in laboratory rats in which artificial hind legs paralysis was previously caused by cutting the spinal cord. After implantation of the E-Dura implant, after 2 weeks all the animals began to walk on their own, and during further observation up to 5 months the spinal cord function was normal and there were no complications and side effects.

Today, Swiss inventors are preparing to conduct clinical trials on volunteer patients. They plan to conduct research not only on patients with spinal injuries, but also with another pathology of the central nervous system – multiple sclerosis, Parkinson's disease, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis. It is noted that this technology will be used in medical centers in Israel.

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