Title: Rice University Engineers Awarded $6.25 Million NIH Grant to Develop Nanoelectronic Threads for Spinal Cord Research
In a groundbreaking new project, engineers from Rice University have secured a $6.25 million grant from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to optimize nanoelectronic threads (NETs) for use in the spinal cord. The goal of this four-year initiative is to enhance neuroscientific understanding of spinal cord function and potentially improve the lives of individuals with spinal cord injuries and medical conditions.
The engineers have already experienced success with NETs, which have been employed to gather valuable data from neurons in the brain. Building upon this achievement, they aim to adapt and optimize NET technology to study spinal cord neurons. Currently, the understanding of how these neurons function is limited, hindering advancements in the treatment and management of spinal cord-related conditions.
Unlike the brain, the spinal cord’s neuronal activity is less understood, despite its vital role in interpreting and coordinating movement. Electrodes have been previously utilized to study brain function, but accessing and studying spinal cord neurons presents additional challenges due to its structure and function.
Preliminary tests using NET probes in mice have shown promising results in recording electrical information from spinal cord neurons. By developing a probe design that can be implanted at various sites along the spine, researchers hope to capture a cross-section of neuronal data and shed light on their intricate workings.
Furthermore, the optimized NET probes will be equipped with stimulation capabilities that may potentially restore fine motor control and alleviate pain. By partnering with other laboratories specializing in spinal cord research, the project aims to foster collaboration and advance our understanding of this complex aspect of neuroscience.
This breakthrough research not only has the potential to revolutionize our understanding of spinal cord function but also offers hope to patients with spinal cord injuries and medical conditions. By providing an advanced tool for the neuroscience community, the project strives to pave the way for innovative treatments and therapies that improve the quality of life for those affected by spinal cord-related disorders.
As the project progresses, the engineers at Rice University and their collaborators are optimistic that their work will have a lasting impact, helping to unlock the secrets of the spinal cord and bring about new possibilities for patients worldwide.
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