This is fantastic news that will hopefully turn into a treatment for people with spinal cord injuries and other nerve injuries.

A self-assembling gel injected at the site of spinal cord injuries in paralysed mice has enabled them to walk again after four weeks.

The gel mimics the matrix that is normally found around cells, providing a scaffold that helps cells to grow. It also provides signals that stimulate nerve regeneration.

Samuel Stupp at Northwestern University in Chicago and his colleagues created a material made of protein units, called monomers, that self-assemble into long chains, called supramolecular fibrils, in water.

When they were injected into the spinal cords of mice that were paralysed in the hind legs, these fibrils formed a gel at the injury site.

The researchers injected 76 paralysed mice with either the fibrils or a sham treatment made of salt solution, a day after the initial injury. They found that the gel enabled paralysed mice to walk by four weeks after the injection, whereas mice given the placebo didn't regain the ability to walk.

The team found that the gel helped regenerate the severed ends of neurons and reduced the amount of scar tissue at the injury site, which usually forms a barrier to regeneration. The gel also enhanced blood vessel growth, which provided more nutrients to the spinal cord cells.

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