Helping the body regrow nerves – Science Nation

Combat, cancer and accidents–all can cause devastating nerve injuries. Sometimes, the body heals on its own.

“Your peripheral nerves, the ones in the arms and the face, have an inherent ability to regenerate, but only under ideal circumstances,” says University of Florida biomedical engineer Christine Schmidt.

With support from the National Science Foundation (NSF), Schmidt and her team are working to restore nerve function when injuries are more complicated. Surgeons can sometimes move a nerve from one part of a patient’s body to another. Schmidt has developed a method that grafts cadaver tissue onto the damaged area to act as a scaffold for nerves to re-grow themselves.

“This medical application has been made possible by developing new tissue engineering methods and by understanding how cells interact with their surroundings,” notes Friedrich Srienc, director of the Biotechnology, Biochemical and Biomass Engineering program in NSF’s Directorate for Engineering.

Schmidt and her team are also looking at other approaches to directly stimulate nerve growth using as building blocks the natural sugar molecules found in the body. That would eliminate the need to transplant tissue. While the ultimate goal in nerve regeneration is reversing paralysis, Schmidt says intermediate successes, such as improving lung or bladder function, can be invaluable to patients and their families.

The research in this episode was supported by NSF award #0829166, “Direct Write” Techniques to Create Submicron, Arbitrary Protein Structures within Hyaluronan Hydrogels; NSF award #0805298, Crystal Templated Polysaccharide Hydrogels; NSF award #9733156, CAREER: Understanding the Molecular Mechanics of Growth Cone Motility and Nerve Regeneration; NSF award #0201744, Angiogenic Hydrogel Biomaterials to Promote Nerve Regeneration; and NSF Award #0500969, Hyaluronan-based Materials and Size-dependent Mechanisms of Wound Healing.

Miles O’Brien, Science Nation Correspondent
Marsha Walton, Science Nation Producer

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Written by lena

Foodie, Performer, Water Protector, Avid Baker, Syndicate Aggregator. I probably still live in my mom's basement.


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  1. Please I have nerve damage on both arms and drs say there no hope for me I want to hold my grandchildren again please my fingers are deforming and the pain nothing takes it away. Help please… only 41 yrs.

  2. I certainly accept what you said – definately not straight forward than some people make out to find a natural remedy for neuropathy.
    You should be aware of this and get help from others. I looked a few sites and found some great advice by searching google on websites like Gabs Neuro Guide. Good luck and hope you are successful!

  3. I've been researching treating neuropathy naturally and discovered a great website at Gabs Neuro Guide (look it up on google)

  4. Remote effects of cancer on the nervous system. The symptoms and signs of
    paraneoplastic syndromes are diverse, but certain features are common. The neurologic disorder usually appears before the cancer has been identified. In many instances an initial search for cancer is unrewarding; the tumor is found months or even a few years after the appearance of the neurologic syndrome. Please see: Cancer is a Triad [Tumor, Para-neoplasia, Cachexia] by professor Zajicek on you-tube.

  5. reply to 77 I my nerve damage started because I jumped out of my car to commit suicide I was going there domestic violence for yrs. and my husband wouldn't let me go and he was driving I was arguing with him to separate and divorce he said " its till death do us part " I took my seat belt off I looked at the speedometer it was going 60 and up He was yelling and trying to smack me I opened the door and said till death do us apart. and I went back first. I survived it but with nerve damage. one of my hand ✋ is deforming. I wish I never had done it. 😥

  6. Hello there… any research on Guillian Barre patients? I got GBS many years ago an didnt fully recover. Is there a way to check where the nerve is damaged and repair it like on the video?

  7. when I was in grade three a bowl fell on my feet and I had to get stitched up since the my nerves got damaged my big toe won't lift up properly a portion on my feet is kind of numb I wish my feet function the way it was … please is there anything that can help me help my nerves ???

  8. Please help me!! I had back surgery and the surgeon botched the surgery and left me with extensive nerve damage that affects my back down to my toes. Ive lost everything my whole life because of this. Is there anything for me out there?!? Please

  9. Can nerve damage heal itself? I really need to know the answer to this question!! If anyone knows the answer to this question, PLEASE LET ME KNOW!! I have lived with this problem for so many years, I'm so very tired of being in SO MUCH PAIN ALL THE TIME!!!

  10. Why can't they neurves in humans and shouldn't we have heard something by now well some please say something as to weather or not neurves can or cannot be grown in humans?

  11. Super charged nerve transfers is where its at now .nerve graphs are a thing of the past .look up susan makennin canadian surgeon

  12. I dropped and broke a ceramic plate and it managed to shatter in such a way that it cut the topside of my foot really deep. I can feel pressure and feeling deep under the skin if I press on it hard, but the skin level is pretty numb. Some sensation returned (its been a week) on the outer edges, but the bulk of it doesn't have much feeling. The total area affected is about the size of a contact lens case.I hope feeling comes back, but if it doesn't ill manage– its such a small area. It's still annoying though

  13. What sugars can we take that will help regrow nerves, or do they have to be injected to the nerve damaged site?

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