I am not an expert on neuroscience or even biology but I have an idea I
would like to get some expert opinions on.
Picture the following tragically common scenario. A fall causes total
paralysis to the lower extremities. Assume the injury is serious enough that
there is basically no hope for normal recovery. Maybe something like 1/2
inch of spinal cord was crushed beyond repair. After some time has gone on,
at least several weeks. Assume the initial primary tissue inflammation has
subsided. The bones and muscles and what have you are well on their way to
normal healing. However there is now a permanant gap in the "healthy" spinal
cord extending above and below the injury site. I assume that not enough
time has passed for serious atrophy to have set in. I don't really know how
long that might take but let's assume that the body has had time to do it's
regular housekeeping and that what you basically looking at is two clean
ends of otherwise healthy spinal cord separated by a distance.
Now I understand that there are "neural growth factors" that can cause new
dendrites to grow. I picture the following... A specially designed piece of
silicone rubber or some other sort of similar flexible insulating
elastimomer suitable for use as a permanent prosthesis.
Now just sticking an insulating piece of rubber across the gap obviously
isn't going to do any good. The real idea here is to make many thousands (or
maybe even millions) of parallel conductive paths that will all be imbedded
into the rubber matrix.
Now for the tricky part... How can you make new connections?
Well the ends of the rubber pieces will be specially coated with areas that
are very condusive to making neural connections I don't know what would be
the ideal material to treat the "wire" ends with but you make those areas
attractive to neural growth by treating the wire ends with a tiny amount of
time released neural growth factor.
Thsi will not be enough neural growth factor to effect other areas but
mainly just the the area around the one wire's ends. I say wire but the
wires could be metal or they could be conductive plastic of some sort. That
part is not worked out yet. Real wires might be prone to corrosion so they
may not be the ieal material to use.
Also you would need to treat the ends with some sort of anti inflammitory
agent. More than likely it will be necessary to slice a very thin piece of
spinal cord off of each end with a very very sharp blade. It might be a good
ida to use aan eximer laser like they use on corneas to just remove that
first little layer where nerve tissue had begun to atprophy. When you make
that cut yu don't want to start a fresh round of inflammation hence the time
release antiinflammitory agent.
Finally the spaces between the wire end connection nodes should also be
treated with a substance that will encourage the growth of connective tissue
that will hold the graft in place as it heals. Also treating the sections
between the "wires" discourage neurons/dendrites from making confusing cross
connections. Basically you just want to grow are parrallel extensions of the
existing nerve connections to bridge the gap without introduceing any too
many confusing cross connections.
I haven't addressed the issue here but more than likely you will want to do
something to maximize the surface at the ends of the rubber bridge You want
the connective tissue to have plenty of acceptable material to grab on to
and you have the dendrites and neurons extend beyond the first layer of
connection on into a gap area where the commections can be made.
So what do you think is it something that could work? Is this worth getting
someone busy seriously evaluating the approach?
Please forgive me if this is a common idea that has already been discussed
to death. AFAIK I thought up the idea by myself.
I just thought it was an idea worth exploring.
Just take away all the $ if you want a real address to email me.