A graduate student customized graphene nanoribbons for medical use, and the technology is now being researched as a way to help victims of spinal cord injury. William Sikkema, a grad student at Rice University, is credited with the customization and is a co-lead author of the paper published by Surgical Neurology International.
Many other research projects have demonstrated the ability to grow neurons along graphene. It is a possibility thanks to the conductive surface of graphene. This experiment was different because it took things one step further than they had been taken before. This team was able to maintain conductivity while adding water-solubilizing polymer chain to the edges of the nanoribbons. This increased stability and has made it possible to branch out to biomedical applications.
Researchers have recently been able to demonstrate success in using Texas-PEG to rejoin severed or damaged spinal cords in animals. This could mean a world of possibilities in helping humans with the same types of injuries in the future. People who are paralyzed may be able to walk again. For now, it is a dream. In the near future, it could be a reality.
Further research is needed and will be conducted with regards to the implications this technology will have in humans. For now, though, scientists and medical professionals are hopeful that it could mean treatment for those who would otherwise have lifelong impacts due to their injuries.
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