Breakthrough: e-Dura, a flexible spinal implant could help paralyzed people walk again!

e-Dura implant. Figure courtesy:
e-Dura implant. Figure courtesy:

A team of swiss scientists, Stéphanie Lacour and Grégoire Courtine from Ecole Polytechnique Federale de Lausanne (EPFL) have invented a new prosthetic implant device called e-Dura which could help paralyzed people regain some mobility. Till now scientists have tried several ways to help paralyzed people walk, through implants which stimulate their spinal cords, but these gadgets were either incompatible, or they ended up damaging and inflaming the tissue over time, causing rejection.

The new flexible e-Dura is a thin ribbon like prosthetic which is embedded with a number of electrodes on the surface of the brain or the spinal cord. It closely resembles the mechanical properties of the living tissue surrounding it and moves comfortably with it, reducing the friction to a minimum.When implanted into rats, the e-Dura prototype caused neither damage nor rejection, even after two months.The implant then delivers electrical charges and drugs to the affected area- much in the same way living tissue would behave if not damaged.

The e-Dura prototpe was tested by applying a series of electrical and chemical stimulation to paralyzed rats. It was perfectly biocompatible and it also helped the rats to regain the ability to walk on their own again after a few weeks of training. They have been used successfully on rats with spinal cord injury paralysis and future applications include treatment for conditions such as Parkinson’s disease or patients with neurological traumas.  They are now  focussed on developing a prototype device to submit for clinical trials in humans. Watch the following video for more information about this!