Researchers in Mexico have developed a nanogel capable of regenerating brain tissue when injected into the organ to treat such neurogenerative diseases as Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s.
The team from the National University of Mexico (UNAM) created the biocompatible nanogel as the first designed specifically for neuron growth. Still at the experimental stage after 6 years, the gel showed promise in animal studies as a place for neurons to safely grow and regenerate within the brain.
The gel comprises nanoparticles in an interconnecting network that allows for the suspension of unhealthy neurons inside the brain. Then, with stimulation from several light phases (performed by lase tweezers), the scientists were able to “exercise” the neuron, allowing it to spontaneously act as a healthy, regenerating neuron would.
“We wanted to improve and advance the generation of biomaterials for regenerating brain tissue,” lead researcher Victor Castaño said in a statement. “During the experiments we crossed the electroencephalic barrier that keeps the brain isolated from the body; by crossing it, we were allowed to introduce the nanogel and for it to act without harming the body. We watched how, within the gel, neurons began to grow; this wouldn’t have been possible in any other way.”
On the other side of the world, the University of Singapore aided UNAM by creating the nanoparticle gelatin, which could also help during brain scans like MRI or CAT to improve the visibility of the brain.
- here's the UNAM release