A spinal cord injuries (SCI) are damage to the spinal cord that causes temporary or permanent changes in its function. It can cause a range of symptoms, including weakness, loss of muscle function, and loss of sensation. There are about 13,500,000 neurons in the spinal cord, 31 pairs of spinal nerves and weight of the spinal cord is about 35 grams.

This 3D-printed device repair sinal damage. The University of Minnesota 3D-printed a new treatment that delivers neuronal stem cells directly to spinal injury sites in an effort to mitigate pain and heal damage. The team took pluripontent stem cells from skin and blood and bioengineered them into neuronal stem cells, then incorporated them into a small, 3D-printes device.

Unique 3D printing method

The device is constructed from layers of silicone and embedded with stem cells. It is then implanted into a spinal injury site. The device conditions stem cells to grow new nerves which connect to both sides of the injury creating a bridge of undamaged cells to help heal the area. The device hasn’t been tested in animals or humans yet but preliminary tests show that cells are able to grow in the device and could help treat and restore certain functions in patients.

„There’s a perception that people with spinal cord injuries will only be happy if they can walk again. In reality, most want simple things like bladder control or to be able to stop uncontrollable movements of their legs. These simple improvements in function could greatly improve their lives.“
– Ann Parr, MD, PhD (Co-author of study)

A spinal cord injury, or damage to the spinal cord, is an extremely serious type of physical trauma. It will likely have a lasting & significant impact on most aspects of daily life. Finally, this device is one of the great hopes for people with SCI.

Here, you can read research paper: https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1002/adfm.201801850

credit: University of Minnesota