Korean researchers have developed a new concept of a hydrogel, a jelly-like substance containing water as a primary ingredient, offering a new treatment method that induces regeneration of central nervous system tissues in spinal cord injury.
When the central nervous system is damaged by a traffic accident or stroke, secondary neurodegeneration occurs, resulting in a defect in the nerve tissue and cystic cavity (a formation of cysts), inhibiting the regeneration of the neural circuit and stem cell engraftment.
The researchers, led by Song Soo-chang송수창 from Korea Institute of Science and Technology한국과학기술연구원 (KIST) Biomedical Research Institute and Professor Kim Byung-gon김병곤 from the Department of Brain & Cognitive Sciences at Ajou University아주대학교, found that the hydrogel could inhibit post-traumatic swelling, protecting neurons from secondary damage and helping regeneration.
The researchers used a material called thermosensitive polyphosphazene hydrogel, which keeps the liquid phase at room temperature but changes to solid gel due to the increased temperature.
Also, by introducing the substance imidazol that effectively captures the macrophage-white cells that regulate immune function, the hydrogel area fills the tissue defect with the fibrous extracellular matrix protein.
“The developed hydrogels are excellent in biocompatibility, and they can effectively inhibit scurvy and prevent secondary neuronal degeneration caused by central nervous system damage, thereby relieving the symptoms of nervous system impaired patients," Song said. "This technique can also be used in conjunction with various tissue regeneration factors to provide a method for inducing nerve regeneration beyond inhibition of neurodegeneration."