Rice scientists develop Texas-PEG to help knit severed, damaged spinal cords

An illustration shows the process developed at Rice University that uses potassium atom insertion between layers of multiwalled carbon nanotubes to split them into graphene nanoribbons. This is followed by the addition of ethylene oxide (not shown) to render the edges with solubilizing polyethylene glycol addends on the edges. This leaves the flat surfaces of electrically conductive graphene nanoribbons intact to give a conductive surface for neuron growth between the two ends of a severed spinal cord. Courtesy of the Tour Group

The combination of graphene nanoribbons made with a process developed at Rice University and a common polymer could someday be of critical importance to healing damaged spinal cords in people, according to Rice chemist James Tour. The Tour lab has spent a decade working with graphene nanoribbons, starting with the discovery of a chemical process to “unzip” them from multi-walled carbon nanotubes, as revealed in a Nature paper in 2009.

Now their work to develop nanoribbons for medical applications has resulted in a material dubbed Texas-PEG that may help knit damaged or even severed spinal cords. A paper on the results of preliminary animal-model tests appears today in the journal Surgical Neurology International. Graphene nanoribbons customized for medical use by William Sikkema, a Rice graduate student and co-lead author of the paper, are highly soluble in polyethylene glycol (PEG), a biocompatible polymer gel used in surgeries, pharmaceutical products and in other biological applications. When the biocompatible nanoribbons have their edges functionalized with PEG chains and are then further mixed with PEG, they form an electrically active network that helps the severed ends of a spinal cord reconnect. “Neurons grow nicely on graphene because it’s a conductive surface and it stimulates neuronal growth,” Tour said.

An abstract paper on the results of preliminary animal-model tests appears today in the journal Surgical Neurology International. LINK and contains a video link

See the full story by Mike Williams at Rice University News HERE 

See the Engadget Article by Jamie Rigg HERE

See the Science Daily Article HERE

This entry was posted in Biomaterials, Chronic Spinal Cord Injury Research, Regenerative Medicine, Spinal Research and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Rice scientists develop Texas-PEG to help knit severed, damaged spinal cords

  1. Michael says:

    Hello my name is Mike I’m a 31 year old. that was involved in a car wreck 2 months ago July 13,2016, 2 days after my 31st birthday and had a complete break from T10-L2.. I was hoping to help take part in the experiment not only to help myself but to help others in the future.. any information would be greatly appreciated on how,when,and where these experiments will take place.. thank you and god bless!!

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