Scientists at Northwestern University have designed synthetic molecules that promote neuron growth, a promising development that could lead to the reversal of paralysis due to spinal cord injury. [...]
The innovative scaffold is made up of nanofibers formed by peptide amphiphile molecules. The scientists' key breakthrough was designing the peptide amphiphiles so that when they self-assembled into the scaffold a specific sequence of five amino acids known to promote neuron growth were presented in enormous density on the outer surfaces.
"This was all done by design," said Stupp, who is also director of the University's Institute for Bioengineering and Nanoscience in Advanced Medicine. "By including a specific biological signal on the nanostructure we were able to customize the new materials for neurons."
Scientists grow neurons using nanostructures:
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