Scientists Used Stem Cells and Lasers to Cure Paralysis in Mice
Apr 04, 2014 11:56
Paralysis will one day be a thing of the past, that is for sure. Scientists are working hard on reversing the effects of it. A new team used stem cells and optogenetics to circumvent the central motor system of lab mice whose nerves had been cut. They then blasted them with laser, triggering movement in the legs of mice.
We're almost there! But of course, it is still complicated. Optogenetics enables neuroscientists to modify specific neurons so that they're light sensitive. Shining light on a neuron makes it fire, which tells the brain to move a muscle or stop feeling pain.
Researchers modified the paralyzed mice's stem cells so they'd produce a light sensitive protein. They were then programmed to turn into motor neurons and engrafted onto the sciatic nerves of the mice.
The researchers shined a light on the light sensitive motor neurons and then, suddenly, the mice weren't paralyzed anymore. The neurons fired and caused the leg muscles to move.
For now, like most early research, this is still in the early stages. Hopefully there will be an easier way to implement this. Check out the video below: [Science via Science News]
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