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article imageOp-Ed: Graphene fibres to replace pharmaceuticals? It’s happening

By Paul Wallis     May 11, 2019 in Science
Wollongong - Spun graphene fibres are coming to deal with diabetes, heart disease and more, and they’re totally non-toxic. These things seem to be ideal for chronic diseases.
University of Wollongong in Australia and the University of Texas at Dallas are developing materials to deliver targeted treatments. These materials are called “electroceuticals”, and they’re used to deliver electrical stimulation for tissues and organs. This includes restoration of function in neural tissues. These are (huge issues in dysfunction-causing disease and pain management, to name but two of many conditions.
The idea is to develop implantable structures which can deliver onsite treatment and support where needed. Implants, however, come with a few possible issues, not least of which is the potential toxicity of metals used as electrodes. This problem has been overcome by the development of the first of a new class of fibre materials called a “sutrode”. Half the width of a human hair, these fibres are safe, efficient and can be implanted with no risk of toxicity.
Researchers are calling it “unprecedented” in terms of its ability to access and stimulate nerves. In effect, the new fibres can turn a neural dysfunction in to a re-routed, healthy function.
Another major plus is the ability to reconnect damaged nerves. That’s exceptionally good news for neurology patients worldwide. Nerves grow extremely slowly, and disconnections can be very painful and debilitating.
This has been achieved after a rather mindboggling mere 2 years of research. Developmental possibilities and evolutions are potentially huge. Imagine being able to bring an entire dysfunctional organ back online with a minimally invasive treatment. It could end paraplegia and quadriplegia. Even the hideous progressive neural diseases like MS, MND and Huntington’s Disease could benefit from this range of possibilities.
Complete neuron cell diagram
Complete neuron cell diagram
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This is extremely important work. In an environment where disease turns in to a lifetime of misery and financial hardships, restoring function potentially solves a lot of issues:
Debilitation – Restoration of function goes a long way to restoring quality of life and personal capacity to manage conditions.
Lower risk, bigger rewards – Pharmaceuticals are not the answer to everything. They do have downsides. They do have side effects. They’re not as effective as they need to be, in many cases, to deliver relief and restoration of body function.
Zero toxicity – No toxicity is huge in itself. Just about every type of treatment has a degree of toxicity, which is a negative in any recovery or treatment scenario.
Scalability – It’s very early days at the moment, but if sutrode can be scaled to any size as it seems, treatment on any scale is possible. Integrated treatments for major conditions or multiple conditions could be extremely valuable in improving treatment and management efficiencies on any scale.
Ending the high maintenance scenarios – One of the most demanding issues for patients is the extremely high maintenance required for some conditions. Neural rebooting could well be the end of the pain, fatigue, and many psychological effects of a vast selection of conditions. It will also cut the cost of recovery and reduce strain on medical services drastically.
Go-anywhere technology - This tech can be used wherever there are nerves. That’s something which has never been sayable before. Sufficient recommendation, I’d think.
This research needs to be expanded and properly funded. These are the solutions to so many problems it's indescribable. If this is what 2 years can do, imagine what a high quality, full spectrum research program could do. The researchers deserve a lot of credit for what could be neurology’s long awaited answer to a virtual encyclopedia of problems.
I’m hoping that people will understand how important, and how revolutionary, this research can be. Neurology is a super-tough science, and this is the tool it needs for treatment, research and development. It’s infinitely more efficient than any existing option. Neurosurgeons, who seem to live on the hopes of hard work, finally have a technology which can do what they need to do. The future could be and probably will be spectacular.
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of DigitalJournal.com
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