Nerve damage is a permanent kind of internal damage to the body and is unfortunately a result of several accidents on the road, in battlefields, and elsewhere. This damage affects the victim’s ability to contract their muscles, thereby affecting their sense of touch. The current method of fixing this kind of damage proceeds by replacing the damaged nerve with a functioning nerve from the body and resizing it. This sacrificial nerve is called an autograph. The backdrop of this method lies in the suturing; the suturing hinders the blood flow thereby hindering natural nerve regeneration.
“In our body, nerves are responsible for communicating rapid information,” said Ryan Koppes, an assistant professor of chemical engineering at Northeastern University, who created the hydrogel with his colleagues. “All of your sense of touch, as well as muscle control, is conveyed through your nerves.” To overcome the hurdles created by the sutures while reattaching a sacrificial nerve, researchers at Northeastern University have created an adhesive hydrogel created by combining two proteins that occur naturally in the human body. The gel acts as a replacement to sutures and is 15 times stronger than the currently available wound sealants. This ensures stronger and healthier nerves. This gel supports nerve growth and regeneration as well.
The researchers have successfully tested the gel and aim to complete the testing procedure for humans in the next 5-10 years, so that it can be made available to all those who have been suffering from such traumatic injuries as soon as possible.
“We’re seeing more soldiers survive due to keeping their core body protected, but then you’ll see their arms, hands, feet, and legs are really undergoing this trauma.” Koppes said. “This is something we’ve been passionate about for a long time, trying to come up with better engineered solutions for nerve repair.”