A breakthrough nerve regeneration technique which uses a material made from shrimp shells is giving new hope to patients living with chronic pain, carpal tunnel syndrome and other nerve related conditions.
The team from Western Sydney University (WSU) said on Thursday that they had achieved successful regeneration of injured peripheral nerves, with minimal side effects, by applying a "graft-antenna" which acts as a wireless stimulator and biodegradable scaffold for nerve repair.
Using a special material known as chitosan, made from the shells of shrimp, nerves are simultaneously stimulated and repaired in a non-invasive fashion.
"This is the first time researchers have managed to perform these tasks together," lead researcher, Antonio Lauto, from the WSU School of Science and Health said.
"Our innovative new system consists of two parts, an implantable scaffold glued to the injured nerve by a laser, and a sub-millimetric radio antenna that is fit inside the scaffold and powered by a magnetic coil named transcranial magnetic stimulator," Lauto said.
The thin chitosan film grafts tightly to damaged tissue, attached to a small gold ring which acts as an antenna, with both materials non-toxic and biologically compatible.
Lauto explained that the chitosan has natural adhesive qualities negating the need for invasive sutures which lead to complications in 30-40 percent of patients.