In the latest issue of Advanced Materials, researchers Christiane Gumera and Yadong Wang from the Georgia Institute of Technology announced that they have triggered the regrowth of nerve cells using a polymer coated with chemical structures that resemble acetylcholine, a common neurotransmitter. The research, which is the first to combine a neurotransmitter and a polymer, could one day lead to treatments for neurodegenerative diseases and spinal-cord injuries.
“Lots of people have done biopolymer work,” says Christine Schmidt, a biomedical engineer at the University of Texas at Austin. “But this demonstrates that a polymer with a neurotransmitter can be used to guide growth in the nervous system.”
Anyone who, like myself, has suffered indignity and discomfort (and a serious dent to the bank balance) at the hands of the dentistry profession will probably be overjoyed to hear that scientists have discovered a way to cause the regrowth of teeth in mice. This indicates that the ability to regenerate dentition may still be dormant in human DNA as well, which is definitely something to smile about.
I dread dentistry. It’s painful, undignified and frighteningly expensive – having a tooth replaced with a cap or bridge can cost a month’s salary, and it’s never as good as the real thing. So I’m hoping this ultrasound device that stimulates the regrowth of dental tissue works out well, and heads to these shores as soon as possible. Anything that means I could avoid having root canal surgery for a third time is more than alright in my books.
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