Thursday, March 16, 2006

Nanotech Helps Blind Hamsters See

Scientists mimicked the effect of a traumatic brain injury by severing the optical nerve tract in hamsters, causing the animals to lose vision.

After injecting the hamsters with a solution containing nanoparticles, the nerves re-grew and sight returned.

The researchers injected the blind hamsters at the site of their injury with a solution containing synthetically made peptides - miniscule molecules measuring just five nanometres long.

Once inside the hamster's brain, the peptides spontaneously arranged into a scaffold-like criss-cross of nanofibres, which bridged the gap between the severed nerves.

The scientists discovered that brain tissue in the hamsters knitted together across the molecular scaffold, while also preventing scar tissue from forming.

Importantly, the newly formed brain tissue enabled the brain nerves to re-grow, restoring vision in the injured hamsters.

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