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Neural engineering

Healing spinal cord injuries with graphene

20 Apr 2020 James Dacey

Spinal cord injuries often result from impacts such as car accidents, but they can also occur due to tumour growth and other non traumatic causes. They can leave patients fully or partially paralysed and can affect the functioning or organs leading to a myriad of health complications. Now, a group of researchers at the Materials Science Institute of Madrid (ICMM) in Spain is developing a novel treatment using graphene – a single layer of carbon with unique mechanical and electrical properties.

Taking a biomaterials approach, the group is developing graphene-based foams that could be implanted in the spinal cord. These foams can act like a scaffold or trellis, assisting with the regeneration of neurological tissue within the healthy region surrounding the injury site. Research group leader María Concepción Serrano López-Terradas describes the project in this interview with Physics World, recorded before Spain’s nationwide lockdown began in March due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Find out more about the innovative materials research taking place at the ICMM in this video profile we shared last week. Also take a look at the Physics World Nanotechnology Briefing, published in April 2020. This free-to-read collection celebrates how nanotechnology is playing an increasingly important role in applications as diverse as medicine, fire safety and quantum information.

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