Printer Friendly

Good connections? It's in the chips.

Good connections? It's in the chips

Severed nerves may reconnect, butthey don't usually regain all of their original function. If a new approach is successful, specially designed computer chips implanted in the body may someday not only reconnect nerve fibers, but also act as a "switchboard" to transmit nerve signals that could reverse paralysis. The device is far from human use, but nerve endings have been induced to grow through chips in rats and monkeys.

Called a "merger of microsurgery andmicroelectronics" by its inventors, the technique depends on a chip full of laser-drilled holes. On each 1-by-1.5-millimeter chip are 2,500 of these openings, which act as tunnels through which nerve endings called axons can grow. The chip was developed by Joseph M. Rosen, from Stanford University's School of Medicine, and Morton Grosser, an independent researcher and consultant in Menlo Park, Calif.

The chip "will be essentially a switchboardthat redirects the correct nerve paths," Grosser told SCIENCE NEWS. It is designed to train nerve endings to recoennect; eventually each chip will be programmed to pick up signals from the brain sent to one end of a severed nerve, and electronically transmit those signals across to the other end of the damaged nerve. In this manner, muscles affected by nerve damage could receive signals from the brain.

The next research step, says Grosser,is to develop the electronics on the chip by providing a built-in grid to intercept the brain's signals. It may be five years before scientiests know whether a chip can successfully carry messages for injured nerves, according to Grosser. "It is very important to emphasize that this is very preliminary work," he says.
COPYRIGHT 1987 Science Service, Inc.
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1987, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

Article Details
Printer friendly Cite/link Email Feedback
Title Annotation:computer chips implanted in the body may someday reconnect severed nerves
Author:Edwards, Diane D.
Publication:Science News
Date:Feb 7, 1987
Previous Article:NASA: budgeting back from Challenger.
Next Article:Ozone and global warming: what to do?

Related Articles
American forces press service (Oct. 3, 2005): Pace issues guidance to help military 'shape the future'.
Electronics recycling bill advances.
Marshfield's West keeps nerves in check as he prepares for a spin at state meet.
Stem cells & MS: what the investigators see.
Advice for dancers: former New York City Ballet dancer Linda Hamilton, PhD., is a psychologist, a wellness consultant for NYCB, and the author of...
Brains, bodies, beliefs, and behavior.

Terms of use | Copyright © 2018 Farlex, Inc. | Feedback | For webmasters