Modified silk could be used to repair damaged spinal cords

silk could cure spinal injuries microsoft hololens dev kit 007
Spinal injuries, even when they don’t result in paralysis, are painful, expensive, and often life-changing events. There is no way to cure serious spinal trauma, though scientists are working on new treatments for spinal injuries. in the form of sterilized silk obtained from Antheraea pernyi, more commonly known as silkworms.

The researchers discovered that silk could be used to bridge the gap in a damaged spinal cord, allowing nerves to grow in the damaged area of the spin. The team determined that silkworm silk had several properties that made it ideal for use in spinal injuries.

The first useful property of the silk is that it has the correct rigidity. If the silk was too soft, the nerves simply would not be able to grow across it. If, on the other hand, it was too rigid, then the silk could actually cause further injury to the patient’s back.

In addition, the silk’s chemical compounds provide it with properties that are beneficial to nerve growth. The silk has a repeated “RGD” sequence, which encourages nerve growth by allowing the nerves to easily attach themselves to the silk.

In term’s of the body’s immune system, it was determined that the silk did not trigger a response from the spinal cord’s immune system cells, which cuts down the risk of inflammation. Lastly, the silk naturally degrades over time. Once the nerves have attached themselves to the silk, it will slowly dissolve. allowing those nerves to serve as a bridge for other nerves.

“Spinal injuries affect 250,000-500,000 people globally every year. It can have devastating effects for people who suffer them, including loss of motor and sensory function below the level of injury, and bladder, bowel, and sexual dysfunction,” Dr. Wenlong Huang of the University of Aberdeen said.

“If we can work to find a solution, such as the use of AP silk, to improve their quality of life even slightly then it is beneficial. Intriguingly, AP silk may also have the potential to aid repair following brain injury. These are still early bench-based studies but they certainly seem to show that AP silk has fantastic properties, especially suitable for spinal repair, and we look forward to researching this further.”

As odd as it might seem, this is not the first time that silk made from insects and other creatures have provided medical benefits. Researchers found that artificial spider silk had a wide-range of medical and technological applications.

Smart Home

Oh great, now our smart speakers can attack us with harmful sounds

A security researcher has said it’s surprisingly easy to take over some Wi-Fi- and Bluetooth-connected speakers and get them to emit sounds that can irritate or disorientate the listener, or even damage their hearing.
Computing

A dead pixel doesn't mean a dead display. Here's how to repair it

Dead pixel got you down? We don't blame you. Check out our guide on how to fix a dead pixel and save yourself that costly screen replacement or an unwanted trip to your local repair shop.
Mobile

Rooting your Android device is risky. Do it right with our handy guide

Wondering whether to root your Android smartphone or stick with stock Android? Perhaps you’ve decided to do it and you just need to know how? Here, you'll find an explanation and a quick guide on how to root Android devices.
Computing

These are the 6 best -- and free -- antivirus apps to help protect your MacBook

Malware protection is more important than ever, even if you eschew Windows in favor of Apple's desktop platform. Thankfully, protecting your machine is as easy as choosing from the best free antivirus apps for Mac suites.
Emerging Tech

NASA wants your help developing autonomous robots to explore other worlds

NASA is asking for the public's help to create the robots which could one day explore the moon, Mars, and beyond. It has launched the second phase of its Space Robotics Challenge to develop autonomous functionalities of the robots.
News

Domino’s swerves around traffic by expanding its ebike pizza delivery service

Your Domino’s pizza could now be delivered to you via ebike. Through a partnership with Rad Power Bikes, Domino’s is hoping to solve the problems of traffic congestion and the difficulty of finding parking for those delivering pizza in…
Emerging Tech

Amazing app promises a full fitness checkup from a 30-second selfie

Researchers at the University of Toronto have developed an app that's able to gather vital health information about users with nothing more invasive than a 30-second selfie. Here's how it works.
Emerging Tech

Europe’s free land could house enough wind turbines to power the world

Think wind turbines aren't a realistic means of powering the world? An international team of researchers have worked out that there is enough available land in Europe to do the job.
Emerging Tech

DARPA’s next robotics competition is an obstacle course in an abandoned mine

Kicking off this week, the DARPA Subterranean Challenge will put 11 robotics teams through their paces in a simulated disaster scenario in a defunct mine system in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.
Emerging Tech

Google’s soccer-playing A.I. hopes to master the world’s most popular sport

Think the player A.I. in FIFA ‘19 was something special? You haven’t seen anything yet! That’s because Google is developing its own soccer-playing artificial intelligence. And, if the company’s history with machine intelligence is…
Emerging Tech

Amazon’s facial recognition updates can detect fear, among other emotions

Amazon’s facial recognition software can detect emotion on people’s faces. The company announced improvements in emotion detection, including: Happy, sad, angry, surprised, disgusted, calm, confused, and fear.
Emerging Tech

The U.S. Army is developing A.I. missiles that can choose their own targets

The U.S. military wants to equip itself with a new type of artificial intelligence-guided missile, which will use A.I. smarts to pursue its targets. Prototypes will be shown off in 2021.
News

UPS partners with TuSimple to test self-driving semi-trucks

UPS has been carrying truckloads of goods in self-driving semi-trucks since May. The vehicles are being tested in Arizona routes between Phoenix and Tucson for better service and efficiency for UPS delivery.
Emerging Tech

Astro the dog-inspired quadruped robot can sit, lie down, and… learn?

Move over Spot! Researchers from Florida Atlantic University have built a new dog robot called Astro. Thanks to deep learning technology, it promises to be able to learn just like a real dog.