People who have suffered spinal cord injuries in accidents may have more hope today. For the first time, researchers at the University of California San Diego have used rapid 3D printing techniques to create a spinal cord. Then, they implanted that scaffolding , which was loaded with neural stem cells, into areas that were severely injured in the spinal cords of rats.
New data by Spinal Injuries Association, @AspireCharity and @backuptrust show that the number of people paralysed by a spinal cord injury is 2,500 people per year, as opposed to previous estimate of 1,000 per year. https://t.co/OOmzZg5fOS pic.twitter.com/CF7ISFkaan
— Spinal Injuries (@spinalinjuries) March 19, 2019
These implants were described in a January 2019 edition of Nature Medicine. They are designed to promote the growth of nerves across serious spinal cord injuries, restoring lost nerve connections and lost functionality. In the rats in the trials, the 3D scaffolds supported actual regrowth of nerve tissue, the survival of stem cells and expansion of neural cell axons from the scaffolding and into the actual spinal cord.
According to one of the researchers, scientists have moved closer to the goal of regeneration of damaged axons in serious spinal cord injuries, such as those that occur in car accidents, swimming accidents and falls.
The implants feature dozens of channels 200-micrometers wide that can provide guidance for stem cells and axons growing on the length of the host spinal cord. The printing technology the team used made 2-millimeter-sized spinal implants in less than 2 seconds. A traditional nozzle printer may take hours to produce structures that are much simpler.
Also, the treated rats’ circulatory systems were able to penetrate the interior of the implants to form a functioning network of tiny blood vessels. This assisted in survival of the neural stem cells.
The successful trials on rats mean scientists now plan to scale up the 3D technology for testing on bigger animal models, with possible human tests in the next several years.
— Genetic Literacy (@GeneticLiteracy) March 20, 2019
What to Consider Legally in Spinal Cord Injury Cases
While it is encouraging there have been advances in treating spinal cord injuries in rats, people who suffer spinal cord damage in accidents face a tough future. Legally, suits focused on spinal cord injuries usually can be traced back to either negligence or a defective product. Negligence means an action or lack of action by a person that led to the spinal cord injury. On the other hand, a spinal cord injury case caused by a defective product is one where the product’s design flaw or manufacture somehow caused the injury.
There are other claims pertaining to spinal injury accident cases, but negligence and defective products comprise most. In any case, it is required for liability to be fully proven to win and obtain much-needed compensation.
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